For a lot of my life I’ve occupied the spaces in-between—in between different places, time zones, cultural norms, languages. In this past year alone, I boarded 22 flights, spent over 145 hours on planes or in airports, and slept in over 40 different dorm rooms, hotels, hostels and homes across the world. Yet despite the amount of time I’ve spent travelling, truth be told, I really dread the whole ordeal.
I get extremely anxious when making reservations. I don’t know how to pack light. I can never figure out the right clothes for different climates. I feel claustrophobic in planes. I always seem to lose things when I’m abroad. I am terrible at remembering time differences when making connections. I unfailingly misinterpret signs and walking directions. I take a long time to learn new languages. And I absolutely dislike saying goodbye.
In my 22 years of travelling I’ve realized that I’m far too forgetful, sentimental, and slow to just get up and go. Yet, in these past few years, I’ve also found myself repeating this pattern over and over again: taking a gap year before college, doing international programs over summer, and now, studying abroad.
I’m starting to realize that being in transit simultaneously uproots and deepens my sense of self; it disrupts my daily existence and builds my life up. Sometimes, being thrown into the deep end of the water is the best way to learn how to swim.
It is when I’ve been in a completely unfamiliar environment when I’ve been able to appreciate the nuances of each changing place the most. It is when I’ve experienced long-distance relationships when I’ve valued the people I love the most. And it is in the chaos and ever-changing horizon of travelling when I’ve witnessed the most colorful and peaceful sunsets.
I know that while in Granada, Spain I will continue to be in-between situations, as my Spanish proficiency level changes, I move through different relationships, and explore different parts of the city and country. Yet, as the saying goes, I hope that I will learn to enjoy my time in Granada as a journey, more than as a destination.
If there is anything that I hoped to have prepared for this study abroad, it is the willingness to be in-between: To get lost. To make mistakes when speaking another language. To be uncomfortable, and unbalanced, and unknown. To feel confused and rejected and heavy, but not so overweight that my bags no longer have space for new understanding. To laugh at, to remember, to discover the art of being in transit.
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<p>I'm from the Philippines, and enjoy hearing other people's stories, especially through videos, books, journalism, midnight conversations, meals, long runs or road trip. I am especially interested in how to create environments of empathy. I took a gap year before entering university in the Sacred Valley of Cusco, Peru, which very much opened my eyes to see the beauty in the world and in other people.</p>