Memories of MadridMadrid, Fall 2011

I have been at home for a little over a week now, and it is still sinking in that this chapter of my life abroad has ended, especially now that the buzz of Christmas has passed and the excitement of being home has faded.  It is still hard to believe that this past semester in Madrid even happened, let alone that it came to an end.  It’s hard to explain, but I’m sure everyone who has been abroad before knows what I’m talking about.  It’s the strangest mix of emotions I have ever felt. My trip home took over 24 hours, and was torture due to a three hour delay from San Francisco back home.  Luckily for me, one of my friends from high school who studied abroad in Barcelona was on my flight home, and coincidentally we were assigned seats next to each other.  It was nice having someone who was going through what I was to sit and talk to during our long delay.  The flight from SF to Boise was on the smallest plane I had ever been on in my life, seating only 20 people.  I think I slept the entire 90 minute flight home, which was more than I can say for any of my longer flights.  Being reunited with my family and friends, who stayed up until 2 a.m. to come get me made the torturous travel time worth it in the end.  It was nice to get to go home and see my dog, and sleep in the luxury of my pillow top bed and fake goose down pillow.  After a few good days of down-time and rest, my mom hosted a small get together for some of our family and closest friends to welcome me home.  The party allowed me to make a big jug of my sangria, several tortilla de patatas, and pan con tomate, all of which were a big hit. Being in Madrid definitely put things into perspective for me, i.e. to cherish each moment, even the bad or stressful ones because they will pass with time, and the passing of time meant that my time in Madrid was diminishing.  I consider my choice to study abroad  as one of the best decisions I have ever made because it opened my eyes to new cultures, pushed me to speak Spanish and improve my speaking and writing skills, and allowed me the biggest sense of independence I have ever felt in my life.  My last two trips to Dublin and London had me navigating the cities by foot with the help of a map, or just with my surprisingly good sense of direction; and never once did I get lost.  It was very empowering, and I was able to prove to myself that my dreams of traveling in the future can be done alone without fear. I met so many great people while I was abroad, many of whom I plan to keep in touch with.  It was especially hard for me to say goodbye to my Spanish compañera who lived in the apartment with us.  We had grown pretty close during the semester, and she had helped me out numerous times from apartment drama to editing my papers for my literature classes.  We plan to Skype regularly so I can keep speaking Spanish, and she can practice her English with me.  When I get sad about my time in Madrid coming to a close I distract myself with all the positive things I have to look forward to in the coming month, such as returning to my closest friends and sorority sisters at Redlands, my awesome class and work schedule for next semester, and the thought of returning to Madrid in the future.
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