Before my IES Abroad program began in January, I had the pleasure of traveling to Spain with my family for the holidays. In a sense, the Spanish family vacation was a form of “traveling with training wheels,” in which I could acclimate myself to Spain while not being forced to bear the entire weight of any stresses. Having lived in Spain for four months during the summer, I was thrilled to share the country I so fondly fell in love with some of the people closest to me.
Traveling to Spain provoked a whirlwind of emotions within me. It was as if excitement, anticipation, unease, and nervousness were all separate clouds in an internal emotional storm, crashing into one another. As I stepped off the plane onto the European tarmac, however, a calming wave of relief washed over me. In a somewhat bizarre sensation, I felt as if I was departing one home only to arrive to another.
An absolute highlight of my travels with my family was having the opportunity to share the city I called home last summer, Sevilla, with the people I love most. A frequently heard Spanish expression states “Sevilla es una maravilla,” which translates to Sevilla is marvelous. If you are ever so lucky as to visit the picturesque, sun soaked Andalusian town in southern Spain, you will soon realize that no words or expressions can truly do the city justice as to capture its beauty and charm.
Returning to the place where I had built so many friendships, embarked on so many adventures, and grew so much as a person was much like revisiting an old chapter in the storybook of my life. The person I am today is not the same girl that explored Southern Spain for a summer on her own, even though relatively little time has passed. Reopening a page in my Sevilla chapter revealed to me that I will always be able to find a piece of myself in the Spanish city that I once called home.
This revelation inspired thoughts and contemplations on what it really means to make a place your home.
We build our homes in various towns, cities, and open spaces, in diverse landscapes across the globe. We build homes in religions, belief systems, and the philosophies we follow. Even more importantly, we build our homes in the hearts of other people that touch our lives in many ways. The feeling of “being at home,” is a sensation of utter and absolute belonging. It is a sacred feeling that I hope each person has the luxury of experiencing.
Ultimately though, out of all of the homes that you build for yourself, I hope the place you feel most at home at is within your own heart. When we learn to become truly comfortable and content in ourselves, we allow for true connection, vulnerability, and transformation to ensue.
I look forward to discover the manner ways in which Madrid will become a new home and a new chapter for me this semester.