I know that this will probably sound cliché, but it truly does feel like yesterday when I landed in Europe. It’s hard to believe that I have lived on my own for five months and in a few days this whole experience will be over. It is very hard to put into words, an experience that has shaped you in ways that you do not yet realize.
I was so incredibly nervous when I left for Granada. I put on a façade and a smile to my friends and family, but three days before I left I couldn’t even sleep because I was so scared about literally flying into the unknown, all by myself.
While I had taken Spanish in high school and middle school, none of it really stuck and I was naïve to think that I would magically remember every little thing that I had learned. But, surprisingly while being here, I have picked up a lot more than I ever thought I could. For example, today in my Spanish class, I answered and explained a question perfectly and it was something that I thought I would never have been able to do.
There is however, a small part of me, that has doubts that I truly took advantage of everything that study abroad had to offer. When I look on social media or talk to friends that I have made in the program, they always show me pictures and tell me these incredible stories of their adventures in other countries. Because of this, I always have a small voice in my head that tells me I should have gone out more, eaten more tapas, seen more museums, gone on more hikes, gone to all of the beaches, made more friends with locals, etc. etc. etc.
But then I stop and take a look at what I have done. In four months and one week, I visited five countries and 24 cities (I am hoping to make it 26 by the time I leave here). I have eaten the best pionono postres in the entire province of Granada. I watched the sun set behind the Alhambra and thought that I had never seen anything more peaceful. I made a wonderful and lasting connection with my host mom and my host sister (and their dog Rita, too). I saw the twinkling city lights of Paris from the Eiffel Tower and reconnected with family in France. I watched the waves crash against the 400 ft Cliffs of Moher in Ireland. These are things that when I boarded the plane to Spain, I never could have dreamed of.
I’ve also encountered challenges here that have shaped me to be stronger, more resilient, and self-assured. I have learned that there are always people that are going to do more things than you will, but they won’t share the same memories that you have made.
While it’s true that I am leaving Granada, Granada will never leave me. This place has become a city where I learned how to be self-reliant, independent, and more confident. I am humbled and so very appreciative of my time here. It fostered my curiosity for life and adventure, and I know that this is something that I will continue to cherish when I return home.
To my family, thank you for continuing to push me to explore outside of my comfort zone and for being my strongest support. To my roommate and friend, thank you for the belly aches from all of our laughs — I am lucky and humbled to have been able to experience this with you. To my host family, thank you for making Granada feel like home, and for making me feel like family. To my friends that I have made here, thank you for exploring with me and fostering my sense of adventure. And to Granada, “siempre estarás en mi corazón.”