At this moment, there are five days left until I leave for Spain. Five days. That means I have five days left to eat my favorite foods. Five days to spend with my family and friends. Five days to make money. Five days to wake up in my own bedroom where I know every crevice on each wall. Five days to pack all my belongings into one suitcase of no more than 50 lbs. Five days to be comfortable. Five days to flow with the motions of everyday life. Five days until I plunge into the unknown. Five days. Now that’s a truly incredible thought.
This semester abroad is probably the scariest and most exciting adventure that I have planned in my life. I’ve had a few people ask me, “Who would be crazy enough to pack up their stuff and move all the way around the world?” to which I usually just smile and smugly reply, “Me, of course.” This is exactly what I have wanted to do my whole life: go places, see things, travel the world from California to Japan. This is the one huge leap toward my dreams. I can’t wait to see El Museo del Prado and La Plaza Mayor, visit London and any other country I can afford, and most importantly, uncover a culture completely different from anything I’ve ever experienced here. ¡Dime adventura! ¡Dime perspectiva!
I’m not positive that the full gravity of the situation has set in for me yet, but it’s definitely starting to. My family seems nice enough, from what little correspondence I’ve had with Gabriel. The couple lives with their 25-year-old daughter in a chalet with a pool and internet access. They seem nice, but I don’t know very much about them beyond a few tidbits of information. Quite reasonably, I’m a little nervous about living with complete strangers, but I’m lucky enough to have already met the girl I will be living with from Oswego. We’ve been texting and she definitely shares my enthusiasm and excitement. It’s comforting to know that someone will be going through the same thing as me. It’s also comforting that I have a friend from high school who is already there in Madrid, and she has great things to say about it.
My uncle told me a while ago that I should set goals for myself before I leave so that I can get the most out of this experience, so here it goes:
1) Learn the language. Simply put, I want to learn to speak like a Spaniard. It’s not going to be easy, and more likely than not it’s going to be overwhelming and frustrating, but I’m going to do it.
2) See things that startle me (in a good way). The world is full of surprises and new adventures, and my second goal is to fit as many of those startling things into five months as humanly possible. Ultimately, I want to expand my perspective on life by living in this different culture, which will hopefully help me grow as a person. I want to meet people with a different point of view than myself and truly have the adventure of a lifetime (though I’m sure I’ll plan another big adventure as soon as this one is over:) )
These are probably the two biggest goals I have for myself over there. Of course there are other smaller goals I have like to try new foods (I’m a picky eater) and to get good grades in my classes (eek fear of a bad GPA), but overall I’d say these two sum it all up. We’ll see how it all works out, of course.
For now, I just need to focus on packing, paying the deposit for my housing, and saying my “see you laters.” I used to think of them as goodbyes, but a close friend once told me that is the worse possible way to look at it. I’m moving around the world for five months, but hopefully I can conquer the culture shock and home-sickness that is bound to knock me down at times. I’ll be thankful for Facebook and Skype during those times and, of course, my pen and notebook. Every other time, I’ll be scavenging the city and diving head-first into all that is Madrid.