Thursday, June 27, 2013

Saying Goodbye

I almost don't have the heart to write this blog...or maybe I just don't have energy as I wind down from the stress of test taking, packing, and a long adventure overseas.

I know everybody is going to ask me the same question: Did it feel like it went by fast?
That's not really an easy question to answer. Yes and no. Each day felt slow, and looking back on when I got here, it feels like I've been here forever. Much longer than 30 days. But at the same time, it doesn't feel like it should be time to leave yet.

I think one of the main things this study abroad program has shown me is the power of immersion. I am confident that I have grown in many ways by participating in this, whether it be through my Spanish-speaking skills, adaptation abilities, or interest in other cultures. In just a month, I have adapted to a previously practically unknown culture, and (I should hope) successfully lived and learned in it. 1 month might not sound like a lot of time, but each day has been packed full of adventures and  learning.

Throughout this month, I have also made close friendships, ones that I hope will be long-lasting. After spending almost all day, everyday with these people, it's actually going to be very hard to not talk to them, shop, or hang out with them in person. Although one of the best parts of this study abroad experience was that I was able to meet students from all over the US, it's a little frustrating now that we have to go our separate ways, back to our own areas in America.

Today our program had goodbye drinks, where we went to a restaurant, sat at a long table, and just spent one last time with us all together. It was really bittersweet. It showed me how close I have gotten to my fellow students, and reminded me of how many memories we've made together in just 30 days. I feel so blessed to have been able to take part in this wonderful opportunity. I know for a fact that I won't forget this for the rest of my life.

Interesting side note: we found out via a casual remark that two of our directors, Cristina and Fausto, are married, and have been for about ten years. Talk about a mind twister. They've never appeared more than casual work buddies (which I guess is good- workplace professionalism) but I'm still having trouble adjusting to this new-found information. Just so you all know.

Anyway, on our way out of the restaurant, everyone started doing that hugging, I'll-message-you-on-Facebook thing. Aka: goodbye.

I'm not good at goodbyes. I don't like them. At all. They're just too gut-wrenching and upsetting. So when I was unsuccessfully trying to run out of the restaurant, trying to avoid everyone's teary-eyed faces but being pulled into hugs and pictures, I happily exclaimed: Hasta luego! See you later.

That doesn't always make it better. I probably won't see a lot of them later. But at least it's delaying the obvious. And it makes me feel better since I don't have to say that G-word.

To escape from the misery, two of my friends and I ended up going for tapas one last time, followed by walking through Calle Mayor. We even went into the Cervantes House, which we never seemed to have time for before now. I was a bit disappointed because I figured it would actually BE Miguel de Cervantes' house. Turns out it was only a replica, but we still had fun. We often stopped to comment on the architecture of the building or of the paintings inside, because we were all in the painting class together and are nerds like that. Nevertheless, it seemed fitting that we spent our last night in Alcala de Henares, birthplace of Miguel de Cervantes, walking through his fake house.

And now...packing. Unfortunately my dad isn't here to stuff all this stuff in my suitcase and magically keep it under 50 pounds, so I have to do my best. It just feels so weird to think that at this time tomorrow, I will be back home, after completing the study abroad program that I had been waiting to do ever since I started learning Spanish. I have seen, done, and visited so much here, that it has been worth all those years of awful grammar classes, AP tests, and essays.

As I reminisce on the past four weeks, I can't help but hope I can come here again someday. There's still so much more to be seen, and I really have fallen in love with Spain. Although in the future I might not have the same friends here, and I definitely won't have the same school experience, I know that this country will never disappoint.

So, hasta luego.

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