I’m not going to lie: I sat down to write this blog and had absolutely no idea what to say, but in the best way possible. Firstly, I was hit with the realization that this is the most English I’ve written/thought in a while, and that itself threw me into a Spanglish purgatory (this is my way of apologizing if this post doesn’t make sense). Secondly, as I sat with my hands hovering over my keyboard, I rifled through my thoughts and tried to pick a memory to share, but there are already so many and picking just one wouldn’t fulfill all the gushing I’d need to do to adequately describe how I’m feeling. At risk of sounding like almost every college student who has ever studied abroad, my experience in these last 6-ish weeks has been absolutely incredible.
The transitions alone that have happened in the last couple of weeks are hard to wrap my head around. I started the program as a bundle of nerves. Imagine almost every single doubt one could have about their abilities in speaking a language, and you’ll get what was racing through my mind in the first couple of days. Unfamiliar colloquialisms and accents floated around me and I struggled to keep track of them, let alone reproduce them in conversations in hopes of sounding more like a native. In a matter of days however, I noticed my skills improving in our every day interactions. And as cheesy as it sounds, that is one of my favorite part of the program: I’m constantly learning.
Whether I’m using the metro, ordering food, eating dinner with my amazing host family, or even just sitting in the cafeteria on campus, I’m learning new tricks, new phrases, new vocabulary. And with all the exposure to the language my confidence grows, not only in speaking and understanding but also in adapting to the culture. Thinking of Madrid as home was a ridiculously easy transition, and was one that was definitely supported by the generosity and warmth of the culture in general. I also can’t forget to give credit to the group of students on this trip and our program director—it’s great to see how the group has adapted so quickly and is extremely willing to help each other out when we might find ourselves in a new or challenging situation. I didn’t think I could get sappier, but when you’ve always got a sounding board to practice a question (which happens more than we’d like to admit) or friends to explore with, feeling at home is a walk in the park.
At the end of this slightly strange and mushy post, I’ll admit that reflecting on feelings always ends up being harder than I think and might not be my strong suit…but there’s one thing for sure: I’m so glad I took the risk to study abroad because living in Madrid has already been an unforgettable experience.