“I met a lot of people in Europe. I even encountered myself” -James Baldwin
A weekend in Toledo and lots of time procrastinating studying for midterms has given me the opportunity to reflect on my experience so far. Prepare for some cheesy stuff.
I can honestly say for the first time in a long time that I’m truly HAPPY!
This year was a disaster and I’m so blessed to have to opportunity to run away from it for 3.5 months. There was no better time for this trip, and I’m forever grateful for my parents for making it possible. I’m so thankful for the Spaniards that have been so kind to me and made the adjustment to a new culture relatively easy. I’m so grateful for all of the new friends I’ve met so far for making every day a new adventure. I’m thankful for the professors and other staff at La Fundacion who support us all every day and who say my name “Ayison” (two L’s next to each other in Spanish makes a Y sound) so cutely! I’d forgotten what it’s like to go to a school small enough that everyone learns your name.
Although I miss a lot of people and aspects of life in the US, I have never really wanted to go home. I know there’s still a lot of time left in the program, but I finally understand what a small fraction of my life this experience is and I have to live in the moment, or else I’ll blink and I will have never really lived it at all. This week, I received an email from my high school Spanish teacher (Señor B for all you STA folks!) that made me tear up a little! He reminded me to “grasp it with both hands and wring in as much out of the experience as possible, such opportunities are rare.” I needed this reminder! The experience is going so fast, and I need to make the best out of every day. I am also reminded that without a great Spanish teacher during high school, I would not be here. I would not have the passion for the language and culture that I do and I would not have the skills that let me jump into upper division Spanish classes at the U and in Spain. I have so many things to be thankful for, so many things that couldn’t have led me here. I know the good times may end come late December when I return to the arctic, working too many hours, and the daily stresses of life, but until then, I will continue loving every aspect of my European adventure!
Between studying, writing papers, and reflecting on the experience, I got to be a tourist in Toledo this weekend. My friend Jen who is studying in Madrid came to visit. We gave her a little preview of nightlife in Toledo (a little more low-key than Madrid!). The next day, it was beautiful and warm, perfect to walk all around the city, so we took advantage and did a lot of sight seeing! We toured the cathedral, which was even more breathtaking than I would have imagined. It was constructed in the 13th century and is one of only three gothic cathedrals in Spain. We ate a nice lunch on a patio restaurant and then made the hike to the other side of the city to see the view. Even though I’ve been here for a little over a month, I still find myself constantly confused and amazed by this city. You can easily get lost, but just as easily find a new hidden gem. I can’t wait for my parents to come in December so I can be a tour guide once again.
After three midterms this week, I will be boarding a plane to Salzburg, Austria for the start of my fall break adventure! I will also be making stops in Vienna, Prague, and Brussels! Best wishes to everyone back home. I’ll be sending some positive European energy your way.