Friendship in Foreign Places

Nicole Von Wilczur
September 29, 2016

Today is September 30th- the last day of my first month studying abroad in Granada, Spain. In the past four weeks, I have visited six cities, three beaches, hiked up mountains and down waterfalls, tried approximately twenty-one different tapas, and met over a hundred new people. Throughout all of these wonders, a recurring thought has kept floating through my brain: this would all be so perfect if all my friends and family from home were able to experience Granada right along with me.

I guess I can say that starting over somewhere new has always been a difficult task for me. During both high school and college, having to make friends in places where I knew nobody and nobody knew me was very challenging. When I recall of my first semester of college, I don’t think  about the parties I went to or the classes I took, but instead, I can still remember the overwhelming sense of homesickness that clouded a lot of the happy times I experienced during those first four months.

Though it took me a while, I eventually got better at adjusting to new environments. My time at college helped me discover how to put myself out there and meet new people, and more importantly, how to be comfortably alone. I remember sitting in the student union saying goodbye to all my friends on the final day of school last spring; it was a bittersweet moment. Though I was able to realize how many amazing relationships I had been able to create over the last two years, I was also confronted with the fact that some of the most important people in my life would be absent for one eighth to one fourth of my college narrative.

I worried before coming to Spain that all the progress I had made socially would just disappear and life would be like my first few months of freshman year. My first few days here, I felt myself slipping back into my shell with every conversation I didn’t contribute to at meals or every time I walked alone on an excursion through the city. I can thankfully say that someway, somehow, somewhere along the line, I did end up making friends. Three friends to be exact (maybe a couple more?). It’s not a lot, but I feel happy and lucky to find people I enjoy spending time with and who enjoy spending time with me. I know how just as easily, it could have gone a different way. However, despite this small group of really great people I’m able to surround myself with everyday, I feel like socially...something’s still missing.

What I miss more than big breakfasts, long showers, and the comfort of my own bed back home is the feeling of being completely at ease around the people I hang out with. I miss being able to understand my friends without needing to use words, not having to feel the pressure to fill every silence, and simply being able to know each other on a deeper level. I’ve been having to remind myself that it took me two years to foster those kinds of relationships with my friends back home and I’ve only been here less than a month. At the same time, I also have to warn myself to not let my desire of developing close friendships keep me from meeting new people. There are so many students in my program that I’d still love to get to know, and countless other Spaniards I’ve yet to meet. I truly hope though that by the end of December, I experience the same bittersweetness leaving those I’ve met in Granada as I did leaving my college friends just a few months ago.



 

Nicole Von Wilczur

My name is Nicole von Wilczur, from Phoenix, Arizona. I'm a rising college junior attending Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. When I'm not studying, I enjoy fighting for social justice, being outdoors, photography, and learning to recite the lyrics to 90's and early 2000's rap songs. I've never traveled outside of the US, so I am very excited for the opportunity to be studying abroad in Granada, Spain, and sharing my experiences with you!

Destination:
Term:
2016 Fall
Home university:
Bowdoin College
Major:
Psychology
Sociology
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