5,871 miles – the distance between Seville, Spain and my home in San Diego. No matter the distance, the thought of life back home will always prevail and make one appreciate certain tendencies most might take for granted.
I had a melting pot of emotions before going international — this was my first time going abroad and “flying solo” (literally). I had no idea what to expect. All I had brought with me was a suitcase of comforts to remind me of home and the adequate ability to speak Spanish.
I was a bit uneasy and anxious at the thought of beginning this journey alone. However, as I touched down in BCN, all that fear had vanished.
I’ve been living in Barcelona for about a week and already I’ve been humbled by the culture that embraces me with hospitality, kindness and simplicity. If I’m keeping count of the number of touristic activities that served to educate me on the beautiful, unique qualities of Spanish culture, it is of considerable worth. Yet, as I truly reflect on processing the value hidden behind these excursions and my personal interactions with the natives of Barcelona, it carries even more significance.
During my time in Madrid, I thought to myself, “Why do I need to study abroad?”
As a kinesiology major, international experience is not something I thought I would need. However, during my experience with International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ), I was able to answer my own question.
I brought a camera and a journal with me to record my experiences each day. Being able to reflect on day-to-day adventures, I found that I grew knowledgeable about Spanish culture and even myself. So let me take you through some pictures of my wonderful experience in Madrid, Spain.
Since returning to Germany from my visit back to the United States in April, I have been busy every week with school. I came back from break on April 10, with my classes starting less than a week later on the 16th. If you have read my earlier blog posts regarding my classes, school has been very stressful for me this semester — but it’s also been an opportunity for growth.
I had not had a break from school since it started, and the stress was actually affecting my health and well being. I decided a vacation away from school for a weekend was what I needed to get myself motivated again.
This being my first time in Europe, I didn’t know what to expect. Without expectations to color my experience, Madrid is absolutely blowing me away.
I’ve been keeping a journal to record my travels and write about my activities every day, including my time volunteering and how I spend my free time. Each day has been an adventure with new surprises!
[Agur: The equivalent of goodbye in Euskara]
Growing up isn’t easy. There’s never a right time to do it, it just kind of happens, whether you want it to or not. These past three months studying abroad have taught me so much. I’ve felt the growth within me and there were even times where I felt growing pains in my heart — if that’s even a real thing.
Ever wonder what it’s like to spend your birthday in another country on a different continent?
This past weekend I celebrated my 22nd birthday in Barcelona, Spain and it was absolutely amazing. There’s something about traveling to different places that makes you a little bit more whole. This weekend I’ve realized many things but, most importantly, I think I grew up a little more.
It’s been a month since I first packed up the necessities of my life and traveled across the country to live in an unfamiliar place. To me, college has made me realize that home really isn’t about the place I grew up or the feeling of familiarity I get when I walk into my room. To me, home is more the feeling of comfort I get when I am with the people who are part of my life. So when I first arrived in Spain, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to find that here.