So this is it. The end. El fin. The closing remarks. The final hoorah you might say. I’m in the home stretch with one more essay to turn in and my last final tomorrow, my time here in Madrid is coming to a close. When I first signed up for this course I thought, “ok awesome, at least now I’ll be getting some Gallatin credits while abroad and (hopefully) a good grade.” However, it turned out to be a much more significant experience than that. The Art of Travel course forced me to sit down weekly and reflect on my experience and everything I’ve been confronted with here in Spain, it’s provided me an outlet with which to express my thoughts and feel a sense of creativity that are generally lacking in language courses. Reflection is something that I really have been trying to work on, but it’s difficult when you get caught up in school work, jobs, financial stress, your social life… It just feels as though there isn’t enough time in the day. I’m grateful that this course has given me an outlet to look back on my experience and realize it wasn’t as terrible as I thought.
Not to toot my own horn or anything… but I’m proud of the progress I’ve made this semester. My Spanish language skills have increased much more than I thought they had and looking back… I’ve done a pretty damn good job considering everything. I’ve struggled with some personal issues while being abroad and while it’s kind of scary to see that reflected in my blog posts over the semester, I find it extraordinarily interesting. This is a little heavy, but this semester I had to start taking depression and anxiety medication, something that is unfortunately all too common for American university students, but the weird thing for me was that I wasn’t in America? I was in a laid back country with an easy going attitude towards life, I couldn’t figure out why I felt this way? Reading my previous posts, I see the progression of myself from the super happy optimistic bubbly girl cracking cheesy jokes that I began this semester as, to a less happy girl using even cheesier jokes to thinly veil pessimism and the fact that I wasn’t satisfied with my abroad experience, to not even trying to be funny or optimistic (sorry if those posts were dull, at least they weren’t sharp… like cheddar… because my jokes are cheesy…. Ooof that was rough).
In the past few weeks however, I’ve realized what an incredible experience this has been. I mean we all just lived in a completely different country with a completely different language for five months and although a lot of college students do go abroad, very few are fortunate enough to break out of their comfort zone. Yes, this was scary and difficult but it was absolutely amazing and definitely worth it.
I go back to Texas on the 31st of December, leaving from Madrid mid day and touching down state-side a couple of hours before the New Year. I’ll celebrate with my friends then spend the first few days of 2016 with my family before heading off to New York for my last semester of college. Hopefully I’ll get a job after graduation, and life will move on. I may lose some of my Spanish language skills (although I’m trying to get a part time job teaching Spanish and English next semester so hopefully this isn’t the case), and I’ll eventually reset my internal clock to the New York City pace of life… no more dinner at 11 pm and a siesta from 2 to 5… and I probably will never drink a decent 1-euro bottle of wine on a regular basis ever again…. But I know for a fact that I’ll never forget my time here in Madrid, the people I’ve met, the struggles I faced, the knowledge I gained, and what the cities means to me. I know I’ll return again some day soon so it’s not adios, but hasta luego Madrid.
- Time to go: Michelle Huang