It’s been almost two weeks since I said goodbye to Granada. Having finished my last final exam the day before, it was time for that oh-so-familiar bus ride to the Málaga airport. I looked out the window at the green and golden hills and the endless olive groves, listening to all my favorite songs I had collected during my time in Granada. Before I knew it, I was home.
There’s so much to miss: the cobbled streets, the gorgeous views, and even just the daily rhythms that I had spent months settling into. At the same time, I’ve been surprised by how much of Granada I was able to take back with me, without even realizing it.
Music is an obvious one. I refuse to stop playing the Shakira, Bad Bunny and Rosalia that we spent our semester dancing to: it’s on in the shower, in the kitchen, at the gym. My roommate commented the other day that she can always hear a steady beat faintly emanating from my bedroom.
Food is another easy one to bring back. Although I can’t take a daily trip to my favorite ice cream shop Los Italianos (and truly it’s tragic), I can make my favorite Spanish recipes. The other day I was struck by a mammoth craving for croquetas, which are fried balls of cheesy hammy goodness. It’s a food that I didn’t like very much when I arrived in Granada, and soon grew to love. After watching a TikTok grandma teach me how to make them, I got all the ingredients and made my first ever batch. It was not only delicious but instantly transported me back to nights in the dining hall at my Granada residence, filled with as much friendship and laughter as ham and cheese.
Language is also something that I get to keep with me. My Spanish improved so much during my time abroad. I’m much more comfortable speaking, and my listening skills are astronomically better. The first time I returned to shop for groceries at my local Market Basket, I heard almost as much Spanish spoken as English. Before studying abroad, Spanish might have just blended into the background, but now I can understand exactly what is being said. Shortly after, I had a similar experience at a thrift store where all of the employees spoke Spanish. Coming back from Granada has really made me realize how much Spanish is spoken in my very own community, which gives me a great opportunity to continue practicing the language that was a huge part of my abroad experience.
Lastly, I brought home with me more confidence than I’ve ever had before. Never have I been pushed out of my comfort zone more times in a single semester than in my semester abroad. I was constantly throwing myself into unfamiliar situations and adjusting to things done differently. I ate things I had never eaten before. I traveled to places I never imagined I would see. And I went about my life–from school, to friendships, to doctors appointments–in a language much less familiar to me.
Overall, being home has actually been pretty great. I get to see my family and friends (including many new ones!), I get to eat an early dinner (9pm dinner just never did it for me), and I get to enjoy all the places and activities I had missed. I get to do all of this while listening to new music, eating new favorite foods, speaking a whole new language and fueled by newfound confidence. And besides, Granada isn’t going anywhere. I have too many good memories, ice cream cones to eat, and people to visit not to come back.
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Jaden is a sophomore studying Sociology and Spanish at Tufts University. He loves the beach and lakes, hiking, biking, cooking, and playing video games.