Going abroad involves a lot of personal change which doesn’t come without some emotional evolution. Before I came to Spain, when people asked me how I was, my answer was,
"Nervous, but excited." Once I stepped onto Spanish soil, my answer quickly changed to, "Great, I love it here!" In the last few weeks, my standard answer has become “pretty conflicted.” Largely, I have been in love with the experiences I’ve had here but that’s the problem. I love it here so much that the thought of having to return to the United States is bringing some really bittersweet feelings. There are a lot of things that I have missed from the US since I arrived in Spain, but there are things that I will miss from Spain when I get home.
Never again will I be in these same circumstances with the same people in Madrid. But I miss my family, friends, and dog. My family even got a puppy while I was gone, and I have to watch her grow up in photos until I get home. In Spain, I get to travel and go anywhere I want with my new friends. But I miss greeting my best friend with a hug. Here I get to speak Spanish with people who are fluent and want to help me learn. But I miss having a kitchen to cook and bake. I will miss the churros with chocolate of Madrid, but I will have Christmastime with my family and I can bake some Christmas cookies.
I wish I could smush these two universes together and get what Hannah Montana has: the best of both worlds. My study abroad experience and my incredible new friends along with all the people and things I love the most from back home. These are some very difficult feelings to consolidate in my mind, and it's particularly difficult to explain to the people that I miss back home. Thankfully, I know that I’m not alone. My study abroad friends are grappling with similar sentiments about our re-entry. When we get back, we can maintain contact with each other and continue to remember the incredible memories we have made. But going home means another big life change, one where the circumstances of our friendships just won’t be the same.
In the middle of all of these mixed feelings about leaving I also have to write final papers, take final exams, and make sure I finish checking a few final things off of my Madrid bucket list. This busy schedule is no different from my normal packed days that I’ve had here trying to make the most out of every day, but now I also have to figure out how to pack my life into a suitcase again.
This experience has meant a lot to me, and I’m interested in seeing how the changes that I have seen in myself will manifest when I return to my comfort zone. I’m sure that my feelings will continue to evolve to more sweet than bittersweet as I adjust back to my life back home. For now, though, there’s still some bitterness about leaving my new home.
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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>