Although I leave for Barcelona in a week, I cannot help but feel incredibly unprepared. I’ve made countless to-do lists, organized mountains of clothing, and done everything that I could possibly do to prepare for my departure. But, I still have yet to come to terms with the fact that one of the most exciting adventures of my life will carry me thousands of miles away from the very heart of my existence: my family. Distance has been a challenge I have never faced. When deciding on colleges I only applied to schools within an hour of my house out of fear of leaving my family behind and any trip I have taken without at least one family member has only lasted a few days. So, picking up and moving to the other side of the world for four months is an exciting, but equally as frightening challenge.
Despite my Mexican family being particularly large, I feel an immense closeness with each and every one of my cousins, aunts and uncles, because my parents have instilled the value that family is the most precious gift that must be cherished. My memories are colored by family events where we all gathered to enjoy the comfort of our beautiful, loving, and often excessively loud family. Some of my happiest times are weekends spent sitting around the house having lively conversations with those I am closest with. This trip to Barcelona, as exciting and enjoyable as it may be, is particularly challenging because I know that I will miss so many of those simple exchanges and gatherings that are what truly strengthen my bond with and love for my family.
Yet, it is that same familial closeness that pushes me to step outside of my comfort zone and explore the world around me. While my family is my truest sense of comfort, they are also my greatest motivation. Had it not been for the courage of my grandparents to immigrate from Mexico to the United States, I would have never had the opportunity to study in this country, much less to go abroad. It is their inspiration and their strength that helps me recognize that that same courage lives within me. I am willing to take whatever this experience has to offer because I know that I have the love and support of those around me, and I strive to make them proud. I know that my younger cousins look to me as an example, and my willingness to face these challenges will demonstrate that they too are endowed with that same courage and strength to face their fears and discover the joy that comes from an experience in the unknown.
As my dream trip becomes reality, it is difficult to accept the sacrifice of separation from those I hold dearest, but it is that same sacrifice that drives me to move forward. Throughout my time in Barcelona, I will carry their precious memories with me wherever I go, knowing that I have their love and support each step of the way. I look forward to what this trip may hold for me, and I cannot wait to return with memories and experiences I can share with the family I so deeply cherish.