In the year 2016, I will be physically home in Mesa, Arizona for a grand total of about two weeks. While growing up and becoming more independent is a process nearly all children endure, it is nonetheless a rather odd epiphany to realize that the place you have called “home” all your life is now a place only occasionally visited on holidays or vacation. That is not to say that my home in Arizona is any less of a home than it has been in the past – it will always be a place filled with family and nostalgic memories. However, as I have gotten older, I have realized that I will have a number of “homes” in my life – all meaningful and influential in their own right; all places of personal growth and development; and all places of safety and security. One such “home” is at Santa Clara University. If you had told me that I would consider Santa Clara my home during orientation prior to freshman year, I would not have believed you. While there was nothing inherently wrong with the school, I initially felt out of place, anxious, and generally unsure of myself. However, over the past two years I have developed strong friendships and gotten involved in ways throughout campus that have enabled me to feel a sense of community and mutual respect amongst my classmates. What I once regarded as a new, frightening place has become a place in which I feel familiar and safe.
I type this reflection as I watch the plane that will soon take me to Madrid slow to a stop in front of my gate. As my adventure abroad approaches, I feel nervous, excited, and simultaneously unprepared and over-prepared (not unlike how I felt before beginning college). But mainly I feel an overwhelming sense of anticipation of what awaits me in a few short hours – Will I get along with my homestay family? Will my classes be too challenging? Will I be able to understand and communicate with the locals? Part of me wants to skip the struggle and awkwardness of adapting to life in a foreign country and go directly to the part where everything is familiar and easy. But I have learned that the feelings of belonging and safety that accompany a true “home” develop and are strengthened by overcoming challenges. So while the obstacles that soon face me may at time seems daunting, I will strive to embrace them as opportunities to grow and discover more about Spanish culture. And who knows, as my time in Madrid comes to an end in December I just may have another place to call “home.”
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<p>Hi! My name is Andrea, but everyone calls me Andie. I go to Santa Clara University for Bioengineering and am dedicated to sustainable living and environmental studies. Besides my research on campus, my passions include playing soccer (or should I say fútbol) and ultimate frisbee. I obsess over chocolate and sweets and my even sweeter dog Stanley back home in Mesa, Arizona. This fall I am going on an adventure in Madrid where I will attempt to communicate with the locals, go on a quest for the best desserts in Spain, and absorb an entirely different culture - follow along during my studies, but mostly fun, as I capture the unique essence of Spain!</p>