I write this post almost two months after landing back on American soil. I thought I would be able to write this post anxiously sitting in the airport, waiting my connecting flight, but I soon realized that this post was going to take a while to get into words, as summing up the value of my study abroad semester cannot be put into words easily.
I landed two months ago after spending, what felt like a lifetime, exploring, unearthing, and imitating the Spanish lifestyle. Sevilla, a place I yearn for on a daily basis now, has become a second home. When I landed in the airport, all I could think was “I can’t believe I am back, It feels like I never left the United States.” And while I was abroad for 4 months, It went by so quickly, yet so slowly. If It makes sense. Sitting in the airport, about to board my flight to Birmingham, I could not even remember my semester. It was all a blur, yet I knew It had been incredible. I was ready to get home, simply because all of my friends had already left Europe before me, and I was sitting in an empty apartment, longing for company. Without my friends, I knew that my time in Spain had come to an end, and home was calling.
When I left for Spain, I was on edge. About almost everything. I had my priorities mixed up, I was not making time for my friends or my family, and I was obsessed with schedules. It may seem odd, but Americans are so prone to being task oriented. Do this, finish that, study for this test, complete this project; the list goes on and on. I had been sucked into this mindset and It completely controlled my mood. Going abroad, one of the biggest changes I saw in myself was the ability to let go, to enjoy the moment, and to stop stressing about the inevitable. “That test at the end of the semester? Maybe do not prioritize that the first week while exploring Spain. When will I make It to the gym next? Who cares, go eat tapas with your friends.” These were the thoughts that ran through my mind while abroad. My mind was at ease, almost care free. I honestly feel like a more “chill” version of myself. A lot of my friends have noticed this as well, they keep telling me my new “go with the flow” attitude suits me. Yet, I cannot give myself the full credit. I can only thank the Spanish lifestyle, the easy-going mindsets, and the relaxed nature that is Spain. They are on their own time, making the most of every moment of their day, not worried about the little things. This, in my opinion, is the essence of living. Being in the moment.
I have definitely experienced reverse culture shock, as cliche as it may sound. Being back in the United States, I was scared the first night to get in my car, as I had not driven a car in over 4 months. Thankfully, it’s like they, easy as riding a bike. Which is something else I longed for, a bike. Birmingham is not an area where you are able to ride a bike to the grocery store, the gym, or the main shopping area. I longed for my Sevici, the basket on the bike where I threw my gym bag, and the bell that gave me full access to the street. I miss not having to pay for gas. I miss not having to look for a parking spot in crowded areas. I miss seeing my friends pedaling to classes as I am making my way to park. I miss the park, reading by the river after classes. I miss how hands off the teachers are, giving you free reign on assignments. I miss my small apartment, my roommate, my best friends. I miss making those small connections from home that somehow turned complete strangers into my family.
Having the free time, with little to no priorities, is something that I will forever cherish about my time in Spain. Yes, I love America more than anything, but I am grateful that I was able to experience a world so different from my own and thankfully bring pieces of that world to my real life. I can only hope that these new characteristics will follow me to Tuscaloosa as I return in a few short weeks for my senior year. I believe that going abroad has prepared me for not only an academically challenging year, but also a year that is going to be full of lasts. Having that “first” in Europe has given me a new appreciation for the “lasts” that I am about to take on.
Thank you Sevilla, you have my heart.