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12/15/2010

Not Adios, But Hasta Luego.

Here’s the sad, sad truth. I’m just going to put it right out there. I only have one more week left here in Spain. Una Semana. Wow. Multiple times in the orientation of this program the program leaders’ discussed how quickly this point in the semester would come. I guess I should have prepared a little more.

In the midst of these past four months I have learned a lot about Spain, life, and myself. I don’t know if I have mentioned before how notoriously bad of a packer I am, but I feel like it should probably be mentioned again. With this said, packing up my room at my Spanish host family’s house has proven to be so difficult, mainly because I have gotten so comfortable there. At this point, right around the four-month mark, I have passed by the hostility stage, leveled out the thrilled stage, and just become comfortable with living in Spain, being part of a Spanish family, and attending a Spanish university. Four months ago, I don’t think I could have ever seen myself being at this point. The point of stability and comfortability living over 4000 miles away from anything I considered ‘normal’ or ‘ordinary’. The thing is, Spain did not magically begin to resemble a small mid-west city, or become any closer to America; instead, my idea of what was ‘normal’, or ‘typical’ altered. Spain, in itself, has become a home away from home, and also a continual reminder that commonalities can be found in the most foreign places and people. But before I get too ahead of myself…instead of packing (because, let’s be honest, that’s just depressing) I began to make a list of the specific things I will miss about living here. Instead of an ‘I wish list’ I call it, an “I Will Miss List” …A little on the corny side, I know…but here it goes!

*My Familia (Some of the kindest and warmest individuals I have ever had the privilege of meeting. They have really have transcended their position as my ‘Spanish Family’ to always being considered a part of my Family, and having a place in my heart)

*Context Friends (When is the next time you will be able to meet 25 different people from all over the United States who share the same passion for traveling as you? They are wild, crazy, and amazing and I would never have wanted to go through this experience with any other group)

*The Spanish Sun (Did you know Spain actually gets cold in the winter? And by cold I mean 45 degrees, which is like a sauna compared to the Mid-West cold. The Spanish Sun is fantastic to live and study in…no wonder why the people here have such warm personalities!)

*The Mediterranean (…is fantastic. ‘nuff said.)

*Walking! (Alicante has the amazing quality of being a medium-sized city just small enough where walking pretty much everywhere is possible. Some of the most amazing memories I have of Alicante are getting a little turned around and ending up stumbling on an amazing new park, or a new street, or a pretty building that I had never noticed before.)

*Universidad de Alicante (Basically makes my campus at home look like a very large ice cube. I am so happy I had the opportunity to study in such a beautiful place- Even if it only was for four months)

*Tortilla de Patata (Spanish food in general has grown on me. Though I don’t think anything will ever surpass my Madre’s Tortilla de Patata. I don’t know if I will ever be able to have an American French fry again without thinking of it.)

*Learning Something New Todos Los Dias. (Whether it be a new Spanish word, a new phrase, or a new custom, I will miss easily stumbling upon something I didn’t know before everyday)

*Spanish Customs (Dos Besos – this custom just makes you feel like a movie star, or extremely European. Spanish attitude- I’m convinced that this non-chalant attitude is the reason why Spaniards don’t have as many wrinkles as Americans (though this has not be statistically proven…) Also, the friendliness shown by Spaniards is amazing, and definitely gives the mid-west a run for its money…)

*Spanish! (Learning any new language is great, but I have come to really like the Spanish language…to the point where using the correct form of Subjunctive in a Spanish phrase can make my entire day)

I’m sure there are a million more small things that I am not giving justice to right now, that I will definitely miss about Spain. As well, there are lots of little elements that I miss about America (among them Chicago pizza, Carpet, Central Heating, and of course my friends and family at home). Even though I am dwelling a bit on the fact that I am not quite ready to depart from Spain yet, I can’t help but realize how amazing of an experience this was. It honestly exceeded my expectations in so many ways, and I know, will continue to be an unforgettable memory that I can draw from for the rest of my life.

So, instead, I am not looking at this as goodbye, exactly…but rather, goodbye for now. I do hope to return back to Spain, and specifically Alicante someday in the future. But for now…Hasta Luego España…Muchas Gracias.

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