2016 Fall External Programs IES Abroad Richelle Kota Spain Uncategorized


I remember crying on the night before my flight to Spain— thinking about how much I would miss my family, how anxious I was about taking the plane, and adjusting to a new environment. I also remember feeling confident when I woke up the next morning— remembering that I had already been there before and feeling like adjusting would not be so bad. I excitedly turned around as I saw my family disappear behind me— fading into small dots.

These past couple of months have been nothing short of interesting and surprising. I have struggled with loneliness, academics that failed to challenge me, and losing/forgetting so many personal belongings in many places across Madrid. I have also met some lovely and beautiful friends that have inspired me to keep on pushing through when things got hard, and reminding me to have fun.

There are many reasons I could stay angry at Spain. I could be angry that when I walk into the metro, there are people always talking about me audibly—insulting me and blatantly staring. I could stay angry that people bump me on the street and refuse to apologize or ask me to move before they push me. I could forever hate the food that isn’t as good my mom cooks, that lunch is at 3 pm, and that I feel out of place almost everywhere I go. But those things don’t even leave a dent on the things I have learned and seen here in Spain.

I have seen beautiful, kind souls take interest in my knitting on the metro. I have been able to have close relationships with the program officials of my program. I have seen beautifully different countries on weekends and have made friends I will keep forever. I have almost perfected my Spanish grammar and speaking, and have grown more confident in myself as a person.

In Spain, they say that there are never any goodbyes; only see you laters. When I came to Spain, 4 years ago—when I thought that I knew everything about living in this country— I thought I would possibly come back.

I don’t know when my story with Spain will ever finish being written. I don’t know if one day down the road, I could find myself living here. I don’t know when I will see my lovely friends from Madrid again, or the friends I made from Morocco, Sweden, France, New Orleans, Madrid, Mexico, and so many other places around the world! And I wish I did know because these people have formed my experience outside of my program when the program wasn’t enough. These people have made me happy and formed a home for me in a city that has yet to become home to me.

What I do know, however, is that although the day I come back is unknown, I will come back. I will come back and I will see this beautiful country and see the friends I have made and cherished again. Spain, although flawed—as every country is— is easy to miss if you blink. It’s easy to write these people and their customs off, but when you don’t and you see what’s underneath them, you’re confronted with a people with pride, honor, and history that have made myself a part of hope I never get erased from.

Now that the program is over, I am trying to not rush myself, but I am excited to see my family and friends again— hold them, and start a new exciting adventure back in Philadelphia, pero aunque necesito revolver a mi hogar, mi alma quedara en España para siempre. 

I would like to thank my family for providing me with this opportunity to travel abroad, my childhood/college friends for always being available to talk to me, my friend Anthony— who has sat with me almost every day of this semester and listened to me whine, and to every other friend who has shown me love. Thank you all!


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