Nestled among the craggy, rocky cliffs, the wind blows through my hair, salty breezes reminding me of my home in the Gulf of Mexico. Boca do Infierno, one of my favorite places in Portugal. I look out at the expansive, aquamarine waves, thinking that my family is on the other side of the Atlantic. But it’s not time to go home, not yet.
Unsurprisingly, I live in Florida, and being near the water makes me happy. But right now, in landlocked Salamanca, I feel pensive. In less than a month, I will be home. Not “home,” my dorm in Salamanca, or “home,” my apartment at Colgate, but with my family, in Florida, in the United States of America. A mix of feelings swishes inside of me: how will I feel when it’s time to go?
It’s been said that memories are false and easily malleable, and, as an aspiring psychologist, I tend to agree. It’s so easy for me to look back, three years ago, to my first trip to Spain and make it poetic: all about the fiery Castilian sun, the beautiful barrage of Spanish hitting my ears, the ache I felt when I had to leave all my new friends. I poured myself into Madrid for those three weeks, and Madrid gave itself to me. But Salamanca wasn’t like that. I fell in love with Salamanca like you fall in love in the movies: little by little (pasito a pasito), and then all at once. And I didn’t know it until I went away for a while.
I could not have picked a better place to study abroad: Salamanca is historically and culturally rich, beautiful, affordable, vibrant and safe. When my friends and I went to Dublin and Amsterdam over break, we enjoyed the tourism and sightseeing, but what really surprised me was how much we missed our temporary Spanish hometown. While this was partially related to how much money we were spending, I couldn’t help but be grateful that I made a good choice for study abroad. And now it’s (almost) time to go. A few friends and I are staying a bit later to take university final exams, and I’m starting to feel like a teacher at the end of the year, watching some of my favorite students pack up and go while I stay behind to grade tests. I am delighted to stay behind and grasp onto Salamanca and Spanish culture for a little longer, but it feels like I’m saying two goodbyes.
One of the most important things I’ve learned throughout my time with this program was the delight in finding people like me from all over the world. Not people with the same tan skin, or multiracial parents, or nationality, but people with the same sense of humor, same upbringing, or similar goals for studying abroad. I cannot emphasize how important it is to be friends with different types of people, and not just choose people who look like you, or people who you think share an experience with you, because that isn’t what friendship is about. Friendship is support and love and laughing with each other until 2am. It’s not black, it’s not white, it’s not mixed. Some of my best friends here are from Kansas, Oklahoma, California, Germany, Peru and even right here in Salamanca. And we’re a wonderful mix of cultures, which makes me so happy. If I could give any advice for those of you who are about to study abroad, make sure you’re open minded.
This entire trip, I’ve felt like I’ve had a pile of sand in my hands that’s been running out, like I’m a human hourglass. As I stand at the edge, looking back and forward, I have to make sure I continue to push myself to practice my spanish and hang out with my friends. Thankfully, it’s been something I’ve been doing all along.
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<p>Hi! I’m a junior attending Colgate University. I’m majoring in Psychology and minoring in Spanish – I practice it whenever I can! As a multicultural student (half black and half Italian), I consider myself a city girl and am drawn to vibrant, diverse areas. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with friends and family, traveling, going to the beach, and watching or playing sports. I can’t wait to head to Salamanca, sharpen up my Spanish and share my adventures!</p>