I’m finding my confidence in places I didn’t know I would find them in Madrid.
Today I went on a solo adventure around the city to explore and get in a nice long walk.
In order to go on this adventure, I had to do things I hadn’t done alone before. I had the afternoon free because my classes ended at noon, and the rest of the day was completely up to me. I allowed myself to take full advantage of this and explore.
Before today, I’d always taken the metro with a group of people, but today, I went solo, traveling several stops away from my home. I walked from my dorm to the closest metro station, swiped my student card, found my train, took the right one in the right direction, AND got off at the right stop on the FIRST try. I felt proud. For reference, I am NOT a city girl. At home in the US, I live in the suburbs, so this is something I’m not used to doing. Often when I go into stores in Spain, it’s with a group that can help me figure out what the store clerk is saying, but today I was on my own.
Every once in, a while I get FOMO (fear of missing out), or homesickness about people back home. But then I remind myself— I’m IN SPAIN and I’m only here for a few months; I need to be present while in Spain or I’ll miss out on some of the best months of my young life!
Day by day, I’m discovering my independence and finding my confidence through my abilities to navigate this beautiful city alone. And my phone—I’m on it way less—there’s too much to experience to spend my time looking at my phone. Here in Spain, every second is filled with new and amazing adventures, and my FOMO is working in my favor now—time to fully engage in the moment. I’m taking a cooking class, going on excursions to different cities, hiking with IES Abroad, taking a flamenco class, doing the group and one-on-one intercambios, and taking a full semester of classes. My time is full doing the best things possible!
I think the difficulty in getting here makes me appreciate actually being here that much more. My study abroad was canceled twice before, and now that I’m here, I’m afraid to miss out on a single moment. I’m also nervous about something going wrong with the pandemic—being sent home or having to quarantine. I would miss out on so many things, so I’m packing it all into the time that I have. I think studying abroad has the opportunity to teach me many life lessons—as long as I’m open to new experiences; you only get out what you put in, and I’ve decided to make the most of it.
I don’t know if I’m going to be able to stop saying how grateful I am to finally be here and how much it feels like a dream that I made it abroad. But I feel these things deeply—this is an experience that I most wanted to accomplish in my life—and now I have this privilege!
So, for now, I will continue to live out my gratitude by taking full advantage of the opportunities I have to discover my independence. To seek out adventures that lead me to experiences like singing Yellow Submarine by the Beatles with a local on the subway; experiences that really make me feel like a Madrileña.
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<p>I am a student at Gettysburg College '22 studying Political Science, Spanish, and Peace and Justice Studies. Studying abroad in the Madrid - Language and Area Studies Program Fall 2021 is my first real experience abroad and I am excited to engage with the cultural experience I will have access to exploring Spain! In my free time I enjoy baking, cooking, listening to every genre of music, hiking, and other outside activities. I'm so excited to take a break from my small historical battlefield college town and move to a big capital city in a new country with a whole different history!</p>