I’ve held off on writing this for as long as I could - I wanted to be authentic that way I guess. For the longest time, “Spain 2018” seemed nothing more than just that - some catchphrase, a mantra, that I kept repeating whenever I was asked what I’d be doing for the fall. It would still be months until I left, and even though I knew I was going, it’s not until you’re actually in the process of packing, getting the documents ready for boarding, and having everyone wish you a goodbye that the realization finally sets in with the weight of four thousand four hundred and three miles, eight hours, an ocean, and an entirely different continent - you’re, I’m, going to Spain. The feeling is surreal and ephemeral - you’re no longer entirely in one location, the weight of your decisions carrying you towards a new place; a foreigner in a foreign land, with an entirely different way of life.
But now it’s happening, and within a day and night I’ll be in Madrid. The idea of walking along the Parque del Buen Retiro, with its fountains, colonnades, and its winding paths, is something I look forward to eagerly. The life at the Plaza Mayor, near the center of the city, is also something I look forward to being a part of, even if only for a few months. I’d mention all the other spots and nooks and, as we say here in Miami, rinconcitos, or holes-in-the-wall, that I’m excited to visit and explore, but that could go on forever, so I’ll leave it at that.
It will be interesting being in Spain as a Spanish-speaker. That said, I have a different accent than the clipped and sharp tones of the Castillian accent (We Cubans like to play fast and loose with the Spanish language, much to the chagrin of our fellow speakers), so I know there’ll be jokes abound when I arrive - and that’s half the fun of it. What I’m looking forward too the most, at the risk of sounding cornier than I already do, will be the bonds made during the trip. It goes without saying that the idea of studying abroad is to immerse oneself in the culture, and that is definitely the plan here - especially since the culture is one that while although vastly different, nevertheless remains uncannily similar to the one I grew up in; a culture of passion and uninhibited earnestness.
But until I step foot in Barajas, Madrid’s’ airport, and I make my way to the city center, I’m going to be checking and double-checking my bag (which is one pair of socks away from bursting), triple-checking that I have my passport, visa, and boarding pass ready to go, and hurriedly stuffing my hands in my pockets to make sure I have my wallet and headphones because I thought I forgot them for the umpteenth time (and anyone who has ever flown in the history of modern aviation understands the vital importance of headphones) because the thing is, by this time tomorrow, I’ll be four thousand four hundred and three miles away, in a different country, on a different continent, in a different hemisphere, where English is the second language (finally) and not the first, and when that happens, because it will, and when it does I’ll just say: Spain 2018.
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<p>Well as you can tell from the headshot I used, I don't take myself overly seriously. I'm twenty years old and a son of Cuban exiles, born and raised in Miami, Florida. I have a particularly interesting outlook on the world - one brought about by the Cuban heritage I take with me (and maybe one or two run-ins with my own mortality, but no biggie!) for living well and loving life unpretentiously and earnestly. The experience of friendships, connections, experiences, and memories are what drive me to make the most of wherever I am, and explore everything - the people, the history and culture, the problems we all face, and that we are all fundamentally more alike than different. I'm a junior at Bates College, majoring in Politics with the idea of one day getting into law and leaving the world a bit better than I found it. On the off chance that I'm not working or studying, I like throwing myself into anything that seems like a challenge, regardless of whatever it is. On my off time, I like being able to just sit outside and soak in the day or night, relax, and appreciate the world around me.</p>