A New Adventure to Ring in the New Decade

Julia Ebben headshot
Julia Ebben
January 7, 2020
Sisters' Trip to Barcelona, Spain 2017

It’s hard for me to believe that a new decade has just begun. It’s maybe even harder for me to believe that my Madrid program begins in just about a week. Recently, I’ve spent my days visiting family & celebrating the holidays, catching up with friends, fighting bronchitis, and constantly adding to my packing list, since I seem to always be thinking of yet another item that will need to somehow be situated (in the limited space!) in my suitcase. At this point, I would probably be wise to consult Mary Poppins and have a chat about the best bag-packing strategy – ha. But I think I’ll manage it. The process of puzzling everything together, weighing it, and re-puzzling it a bit again is always an interesting one to me.

As I’m writing this, the puzzle is complete (for the moment at least), and I’m sitting in the Toronto airport waiting for my next connecting flight before finally boarding a long haul to London later this evening (a quick stop in England to visit a friend before the big Madrid adventure begins next week). I’m drinking a tea (remember the bronchitis I alluded to? The cough is still lingering despite a trip to the doctor and many medications…) and watching all the travelers pass by. I think it’s a fun thought exercise to sit back and ponder the airport scene a bit – to observe the destinations people are headed to, postulate the reasons they could be going to those places, think about how long they may have already traveled or how much of their journey they have left to go, and just consider the sheer number of people who are out and about on their own journeys. I find it a fascinating element of travel that it’s impossible to really understand the scope of the whole thing or know all of the reasons that people have come here en route to where they’re headed. Travel brings together a truly interesting and diverse conglomeration of people. People-watching in an airport inherently makes me think about my own journey as well. Of course, I don’t have to make any conjectures regarding my own itinerary, but I think it’s good to mentally step back and consider what I want from the experience that this next stint of travel is bringing me to.

I feel excited for this upcoming semester (albeit pretty nervous as well). I know that is to be expected, though. Although I feel that my Spanish isn’t currently up to par with a level that can successfully navigate an all-Spanish course load, I know it will get there (quickly, hopefully). And I’m excited for that. I know that the language improvements will be very gratifying to me. Furthermore, the desire to achieve language growth will surely push me out of my comfort zone in a new city where I will be surrounded by strangers. I’m also getting excited to meet my study abroad cohort. It’s weird to think that I don’t know my classmates yet, but that in four months I will probably be quite close with them and have made lasting friendships (that’s the hope, right?). Overall, I think the experience will be a stretching yet worthwhile one, and I’m curious to see how it shapes up. I don’t want to establish specific expectations for the semester, though, because I am sure that growth will occur in the most unexpected ways. So, here’s to a new semester – this time in Spain!

P.S. I find it curious that so many people drink tomato juice on airplanes! Is it good? Does it taste better when airborne? It strikes me as being rather gross, but I suppose I’d have to actually try it to know…

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Julia Ebben headshot

Julia Ebben

<p>Hi! I'm Julia, and I'm a junior at the University of Michigan, who is currently studying in Madrid! I am really happy to be working on my Spanish again after taking a few years off from the language to learn German. Outside of my language learning endeavors, I spend my time playing rugby and drinking copious tea with my friends.</p>

2020 Spring
Home University:
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
Lake Orion, MI
International Studies
Political Science
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