As I sit in the Madrid Airport awaiting my flight, I can’t help but to feel hesitant upon leaving Spain. Even in Madrid, I’m still relatively close to what I’ve been calling home for the past year; however, the moment I board the plane, I know the finality of my departure will strike me. I simultaneously feel as if I just arrived in Spain only a couple days ago and as if I’ve been here for years. This past year I’ve had so many experiences, formed so many friendships, and created so many memories. Even though I’m not only ready, but excited to be going home, I will always feel like a part of my life belongs in Spain. In this final post, I’d like to take a second and reflect upon the experience as a whole and what it meant to me.
I came to Spain with the main goal of achieving fluency in Spanish, and while I will always feel like there is more to learn, I can confidently say that I have done just that. I’ve been told that there are multiple checkpoints you have to pass to consider yourself fluent in a language, whether that be dreaming in a language, noticing that native speakers don’t change their pace of speech when talking to you, being able to watch a movie in the language, or not having to think through your response when presented with a question. After five months of being immersed in Spanish, I have passed all these milestones. Nevertheless, there is always room for improvement, and I know that when I return to Spain, I will be speaking even better Spanish than I am now.
If the only thing I accomplished over this trip was fluency in Spanish, I would have still considered it a success, but fluency is only small part of the plethora of experiences and knowledge I’ve gained living abroad. In addition to the language skills, I’ve also learned so much about Spanish culture. From the recipes I’ve learned from my host mom to slower pace of life to the Spanish siesta, I am happy to be bringing home new practices and outlooks. In addition to just experiencing Spain, I’ve also gotten the chance to travel outside of Spain and experience multiple different cultures of Europe. Over the entirety of this program, I have been to a total of nine different cities in six countries. Studying abroad has given me the opportunity to explore a new part of the world, and for that I will forever be grateful.
Lastly, and most importantly, I have created a lasting relationship with my host family. I can’t stress enough how much they integrated me into their home, lives, and family. Whether it was Lucia having me help prepare dinner, Fabiola including me when she went out with her friends, or Carlos inviting me to watch the FC Barcelona game in the living room, they always extended their relationships with me past simply being a host. The biggest compliment came when my host sister Fabiola referred to me as her brother. Out of everything that I’m leaving behind in Oviedo, I will miss them the most.
As this is my last post, I want to thank Temple Study abroad for giving me a platform to record and share my adventures with you all. I hope that my stories have been as entertaining as they have been exciting for me, and I hope that I’ve convinced at least one person to travel. I’ll see you back in the States.