I’ve always heard that the adjustment phase of study abroad is the hardest part. The homesickness, the feelings of alienation, the starting completely new. It’s true– it definitely was a challenge. But you know what I think might be harder? Saying goodbye.
It sounds like a total cliché, but I truly don’t know where the time has gone. I don’t want to believe that today marks the beginning of our last week here in Oviedo. Wasn’t it just yesterday that we clambered out of the bus to meet our host families?
The hardest part of this week will be letting go of all of the attachments I’ve made here. When you travel somewhere new and have no grounding whatsoever, it seems that you’re almost forced to form new, strong bonds. I have become attached to my relationship with my host mom– a wonderful and selfless lady who stops at nothing to make sure I’m comfortable, and who always takes time to tell me stories, listen to my stories, and teach me about her world. I have become attached to my friendships here. Not only have I grown closer to friends at Temple, but I eventually came to be very close with students studying here from other schools. Our group of friends is my reality now, and imagining returning to school next year without all of them is heartbreaking. And I am also attached, in some way, to this city. It took me a while to become truly fond of it, but as the semester draws to a close, I can safely say that I wouldn’t have wanted to study in any other city in Spain. Oviedo is big enough that you’re never quite done exploring it, but small enough that I truly feel I have come to know it over these past few months. There is something so charming about my favorite cafe spots, the beautiful parks, the cathedral, the cobblestone streets of the old city… alright, I’m going to stop before I need a tissue box.
I haven’t started packing yet, and I probably won’t until it’s almost too late. I love my room here and the personal space I’ve created for myself. My clothes are strewn around in the closet and my books across my desk as if I expect to live here for many more weeks. Maybe I’m in a bit of a denial stage.
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely can’t wait to see my home, family, and friends again in Pennsylvania. But it’s a bittersweet time. Luckily for me, I’ve extended my trip a bit and will be doing some extra traveling after the semester officially ends on May 19th. This is pretty standard, and I know several other students who are doing the same. But although I won’t be leaving Europe for 3 more weeks, I’ll still be saying goodbye to Oviedo in 5 short days. I guess nothing good lasts forever, right?
It’s time to soak in the final days here, to enjoy the final meals with my host mom, to celebrate with friends, and to give thanks to my professors. It’s been real, Oviedo <3