I am back! What a bittersweet feeling. I arrived to the states last Thursday and back on campus on Monday, so I have had little time to really sit and think, but that was what I wanted. If I would have had time to let the experience settle in, I probably would have been sadder than what I am right now. As I reflect on my experience abroad I think of all the places I got to see, the amazing friends I made, and all that I learned about myself, and just thinking about it makes me really nostalgic.
The past semester went by flying and I can’t believe all that I got to do. I traveled to Rome, Paris, and Lisbon outside of Spain, and to Barcelona (5 times), Granada, Sevilla, Pamplona, San Sebastian, and Vigo within Spain. I also became an official pilgrim once I completed 110 km (68 miles) of The Way of Saint James. The traveling aspect of my trip was by far the best experience of my whole stay. I had the opportunity to visit cities and monuments within those cities that I had only seen on TV—seeing before my own eyes the history of the present. For example, the Roman Empire was a key player in the history of civilization, and when I visited Rome, I was able to explore key infrastructure of the empire such as the coliseum and the forums. For me it was just a humbling experience in general to be on ground that was older than the United States itself.
The other component of my experience was the academic aspect. Fortunately I passed all of my classes, but much more than just passing, I learned very much in those classes about the material but most about myself. Since it was an unfamiliar environment, I had to adapt to hearing all of my lectures in Spanish, but also experiment with different techniques to help me study and do well; it was like I was a first year student all over again. In my Spanish Economic History class I learned about how the roots of the Spanish economy and how this is affecting the economy today. In my Sociology of the Family class, I learned about how the dynamic of the Spanish family has changed and been affected over time due to changes in laws and just the passing of time. Academics were not my favorite part of the experience, but they were the reason why I was there, so I tried my best.
Food was also a big thing on my plate of my experience in Spain…get it! I loved everything that I had and loved the opportunity to try new, traditional foods. This is was favorite part of my trip to Portugal and Italy. In Italy it was the pasta, and boy was it good. I say I would just return to Rome for the food, and specifically one restaurant that I found on my last day there; it was DELICIOUS! How can I forget about my tortilla española (Spanish omelet), especially the one my host mom made! I loved it so much, I asked her for the recipe and it was the first meal I made back in the states. Food, besides the fact of tasting good, served as a big component of learning about the culture of the countries I visited. By far, food was a very important part of my whole experience.
Last but not least, my host family and time in la Coruña. My host family was great, now I see why they say the Coruña host families are the best. My experience without my host mom and sister would not have been the same. They were very welcoming and always of great help; plus she cooked very well. Coruña is an amazing city and one that I fell in love with. I had the beach within a five minute walk from my house and everything was just so historical and beautiful. I actually enjoyed my morning walks to the bus to get to school, and a little piece of amazing history- Hercules’s Tower– was right in my backyard. The weather probably is probably my only complaint, yet it was not that unbearable. In comparison to the winter in the States, I would take 100x the weather of la Coruña over the snow here in New England. The only issue was the rain.
Spain was an amazing experience and I would not trade it for anything else; I would not have spent my semester any other way. It was a great experience and I would recommend it to every single person. For now, I relish in the memories and in the hope of one day returning.
Ciao España, ya te hecho de menos (Bye Spain, I miss you already)