Sunday, March 13th, 2016 20:18
It is more than cliché to conceptualize a study abroad experience as a time where your worldview gets challenged and you completely change the way you think. It is cliché to anticipate this blog would encompass that exact process. Rather, as I persist in my journal entries and blog posts, both entirely separate and yet intricately interwoven, I am undoing how I conceptualize myself, my own thoughts, fears, and ambitions. The days, the moments, and the experiences seem to flood past me, uncontrollable and unrelenting like the crashing waves of the ocean. And I, left tumbling in the undercurrent, get my bearings every time I resurface. Our world, as infinitesimally small as it may seem in the scale of the universe, has existed and will always exist in my conception of reality. For me, this means that time, as elusive as the waves, surges past me with the same level of unperceivable permanence as if I never existed.
It is a scary thought that an experience, a life, can be but a blip in much grander scope. And here I am, nearly halfway through my time here in Granada, the clocks seem to spin through the days as I float through a static routine of classes, punctuated by sight-seeing and intellectual discussions. Somewhere in all of these writings and scribbles are pieces of me, immortalized in print, but tangential to the inevitable progression of my life. As important as these are, together they form who I am and who I will be. At this point, I am attempting to resurface, so I can once again, get my bearings, and localize just what it is that I am getting out of this experience.
As the halfway point rapidly approaches I find myself searching for answers continuously. Why am I here? What am I getting out of this? Am I making the best choices for myself? I have yet to formulate a definitive conclusion to these, but I can feel the time to answer these escaping me by the second. Half of me wonders whether this is a bad thing, as maybe this signifies that I am really just living the experience for every moment that it’s worth. While this may be so, the other half of me battles to find purpose. I have resigned myself to the fact that these answers may never come, but that doesn’t mean I will stop searching. In this way, my experience has been and will be unforgettable. At every turn and every decision I make I am posed with an internal battle. I weigh out the consequences of action, and whether they ultimately will appease some unforeseen goal, versus the temptation to just be. To be free from this eternal analysis of my own behavior or to direct my behaviors. I fall somewhere in between these extremes, keeping me both safe and liberated. Thus far, I have not felt restricted nor unpredictable. It feels like me. Truthfully, I am the only one who can gauge my own experience, and while I spend my days balancing between impulsivity and calculations, the truth in my semester abroad seems to be piecing itself together page by page and post by post, as a complete mosaic of who I am and who I want to be.
The Spanish is clicking. I’m starting to pick out nuances of the language in my own conversations as well as those I hear in passing. Imagine that your vision is blurred, disoriented around the edges save for the focal point. Now imagine that the lens is being adjusted, bringing that which is around you into focus. I am somewhere here, broadening my ability to perceive and take in various forms of stimuli at once. And as premature as it may sound, I am proud of myself for how far I’ve come. I only hope that by the end of this program I will be able to look back on this post and laugh at how naïve I was.
I have been fortunate enough to spend a significant amount of time in the area surrounding Granada. Between weekend excursions and Mediterranean Ecosystems’ field trips to beaches, canyons, and salinas I have been able to witness the beauty of Andalucia first hand. Oral and photographic depictions of these breath taking views do little justice when in reality all I can do is remain silent. It is humbling, witnessing the enormity of it all. Whether it I am looking out over the valleys below or staring out over the ocean wondering what lies within, I feel at peace. While the natural wonders have been amazing, the historically significant architecture has captivated me as well. Our trip to Cordoba left me thinking about the blend and sharing of cultures that has accrued where I stand for hundreds of years. I am engulfed in a literal myriad of ancient pulchritude.
Stressing. I have stressed about the usual, homework, travel, expenses, and so much more. It’s easy to get lost in the unfamiliarity of a new place, lifestyle, and routine, but it’s even easier to get lost in the often exaggerated worries that accompany those stressors. While they are certainly valid and inevitable concerns, I hope to spend less time worrying myself over these constants and more time purely enjoying the ever-fading time that I have here and live with no regrets.
The growth is constant. I continuously feel like I am not changing but rather evolving into something that isn’t different but more complete. As Semana Santa draws nearer I look forward to exploring Barcelona for the first four days and then traveling to the island of Mallorca with a group of friends. Here, I hope to spend time reflecting on the first half of this experience, connecting ideas, perceptions, and the constant stream of thoughts that I drift in. The days, the moments, and the experiences seem to flood past me, uncontrollable and unrelenting like the crashing waves of the ocean. And I, left tumbling in the undercurrent, get my bearings every time I resurface. Our world, as infinitesimally small as it may seem in the scale of the universe, has existed and will always exist in my conception of reality. For me, this means that time, as elusive as the waves, surges past me with the same level of unperceivable permanence as if I never existed.
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<p>A sociology major at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. At school I am a two-sport varsity athlete, sing and beat box in an a cappella group on campus and volunteer in the Twin Cities area. In the future I hope to develop and create safer and more integrated communities, creating equal opportunities in urban centers across the US. Specifically I seek to work against structural racism by reducing disparities that are current outcomes of our social systems. This study abroad experience is a time to reflect and immerse myself in an entirely different world beginning first and foremost with a language barrier. I hope to be successful academically and socially as well as learn a lot about myself and the world around me.</p>