Being back home for the last week has been simultaneously relieving and vexing; I am more than happy to be back with my family and friends, especially for the holidays. But at the same time, I feel an absence of something. Some kind of exciting spirit that I felt the whole time that I was in Spain is gone, and I am sure it was more than just the excitement that comes with living and studying in a new place for a semester.
I miss the charming Spanish customs that I became so well acquainted with. I became used to having the streets constantly flooded with lights and families and children even late into the night, just laughing and purely enjoying their lives. And I got used to having meals for an hour or more with my host family in order to catch up on recent events, to discuss the news, to laugh, cry, and simply to share sobremesa with one another. And I miss my host family’s dog, Boira! Whenever I came home from school, she would be so excited to see me that she couldn’t even handle herself – first she would jump up on me, then turn around and run down the hall, bounce off the wall and come back to me, repeating the effort multiple times until she could finally stand in one place (while still jumping up and trying to lick my hands and face, might I add). It was adorable, endearing, and heartwarming to have this greeting almost every day for my four months in Granada. She encapsulated the untameable joy and energy that I felt myself. But at the same time, I am content to be back in my home state of Minnesota. Despite the cold, I had missed and am now happy to be reunited with the friendly and careful drivers, bountiful potlucks with glorious batches of casserole and quiche, and hearing classic Midwest phrases sprinkled in public conversations, such as “Uff da!” and “You betcha!” within earshot. Even the customary early bedtime as it gets dark at around four in the afternoon have been appreciated; it has been rejuvenating to just relax and rest up for a bit. Being with my family again feels blissful as I realize just how lucky I am to have them to come home to!
With this sense of simultaneously feeling content and incomplete, overwhelmed and underwhelmed, I think I am placed in a good position to reflect on how I have changed this past semester. Spain has indeed left its mark on me, and has also opened up so many possibilities for my future. From the influence of Spanish figures and artists that I will remember para siempre such as Federico García Lorca, Pedro Almodóvar, or Paula Bonet; with daily schedules including siestas and an abundance of “no pasa nadas”; from asking my friends, professors, and family ¿Cómo estás? every day, and receiving genuine, thought-out answers; I think all these have positively influenced my attitude and character by the slice of Spanish life I have been so fortunate to have lived. I know that the connections I made in Granada with people and through my classes will continue to benefit me down the road.
When people ask me what my favorite part about being abroad was, I always respond that it was talking with people. In Spanish, English, or Spanglish – just the open communication and warmth of the people I met these past few months I think has given me a new perspective of the goodness of humanity, as cheesy as that sounds. I am also so happy with how much my Spanish has improved, and I feel equipped and adequately prepared to continue reading, writing, and speaking it (as well as feel comfortable traveling to and navigating Spanish-speaking countries). Before I left, I mentioned that one of the things I was most excited about was to begin thinking in a new language, and considering how that skill could open up my way of viewing the world. I think that has proved true even more than I could have expected. I remember sometimes I would be having lunch with my host family during the semester, and talking about movies we liked or funny stories that happened to us. As my host mom or host brother spoke to me, sometimes I couldn’t help but smile as I saw myself having an open, understandable conversation with other people in Spanish. It was such a wonderful feeling, and (warning: self-love makes an appearance here) I am proud of how hard I worked to develop as much as I did in the time that I was allotted to do so.
And all of this benefit came from la ciudad preciosa that is Granada. De verdad, qué suerte tengo de conocerte, Granada. I am soooooo lucky to have been placed in a city with such a warm, welcoming, and culturally rich lifestyle. I am eternally grateful to all the people I met and all that they did for me out of pure goodness of heart, and wanting to spread good fortune to others. I’m going to miss my time there so much, but I feel more than happy with where I am left off, beginning a new part of my life! Where to next… who knows! For now, Minnesota is my home and I am happy to call it that for now. (:
Thank you to everyone who read this blog! I hope it was helpful, insightful, and at least inspires some of you to visit the city of the Alhambra (y mucho más).
Granada – te quiero mucho. Con suerte nos vemos otra vez muy pronto<3
Por fin, ¡adios!
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<p>Hello! I am the type of person who always likes to keep busy and having fun. I am a Minnesota native and go to school about a 45 minute drive from where I grew up. Recently, my summers have been spent traveling around in the United States; for the last two years, I have spent the entire summer in Vermont working as a camp counselor and as an art teacher. I love being surrounded by wilderness and natural beauty, with quick and easy access to more 'urban' life and culture nearby. I love working with and mentoring kids, particularly having the opportunity to get them interested and invested in visual arts. Aside from these recent happenings in my life, I like dancing and singing in the shower, meeting new people, and making things!</p>