A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about how much I love the organized trips we take with the Hopkins in Madrid program, because of the different aspects of culture we’re exposed to. I also—the big nerd that I am—admitted that one of my favorite parts of the program is how we’re constantly learning through these experiences. This past weekend we took our last trip as a group to Granada and Cordoba, and as we explored both these beautiful and historical cities, I was hit with another wave of incredulity as I contemplated everything I’ve had the opportunity to see this semester (also accompanied by a wave of panic at the prospect of having to leave soon). It’s unfortunately been so easy to take my surroundings for granted this semester, and I have to remind myself to pause, take a step back, and fully appreciate this incredible experience.
But to say that this is an incredible opportunity or experience is itself an understatement. As we were walking the little, winding streets of Córdoba leading up to the famous Mezquita, or as we followed the paths in the gardens of La Alhambra in Granada, I thought back to the years of class learning about these places and their history, and how suddenly these places were in front of me… and it left me feeling giddy. I couldn’t believe that it was me standing there, walking through streets and buildings and taking my own pictures, instead of pulling up an image on Google. I got to go to the Zoco in Granada, try the cuisine (free tapas with a drink!), and talk to the extremely generous and kind Spaniards out and about. And these two cities fit in with so many of the other places I’ve had the chance to visit: La Alcazar in Sevilla, La Catedral of Segovia, La Catedral of Toledo, El Escorial, the list goes on. I had learned about and imagined all of these places, traditions, stories for years and as I watch all these images and moments float around me and settle into my memories, I need to keep pinching myself to stay aware.
I can’t believe that the semester is wrapping up already, because sometimes it’s hard for me to believe that I actually have had and continue to have this experience. It’s felt surreal but also so unbelievably real, and I don’t want to forget a single moment.