Final reflectionsSalamanca, Spring 2012

After an incredible whirlwind of a semester, I am finally back in the United States. As I was waiting in line at the airport I kept thinking: did that really just happen? Or were the last five months of my life just a wonderful dream? My mind kept flashing back to all the adventures I had had, the people I had grown close to, and the Spanish customs that I had become so accustomed to this past semester.  Although it felt like the semester had flown by, the day that I first arrived in Spain from the U.S. seemed like years ago – which is how I truly knew that I had integrated myself into the culture and had allowed Salamanca to become my home.

It seems like everybody comes back from their study abroad experience saying it was awesome and raving about how much fun they had. I certainly have no shortage of amazing memories from the past semester, some that I will probably not forget for the rest of my life. However, I have to say this semester was not always “fun”. At times, it was a lot of studying, a bit stressful, and full of new challenges.  Yet while I may not have been grinning every moment, without these tougher moments it would not have been the incredible and influential experience that it was. At the beginning of the semester I wrote that I one of the reasons I wanted to go to Spain was to grow, to learn more about myself, and to develop as a person. I have not only grown significantly in my language and academic skills here, but more importantly I have broadened my perspective on the world, learned how to better understand and accept other cultures, become a more competent traveler, and have challenged myself in new ways by pushing myself out of my comfort zone. And, of course, I have also had tons of fun times and unforgettable travel adventures along the way.

Looking back on the past semester, I would not give up my time and my experiences here for anything. However, after these five months of living in Salamanca and travelling throughout Europe I know it is time to come home. It is definitely bittersweet to leave this place that has become a second home to me, but I am certain that I will be back sometime. And in exchange for the piece of me that I have left in Salamanca, I am taking many of my favorite parts of Spain with me – my favorite recipes, the siesta, the Spanish passion for futbol, and of course all the cherished memories that I have collected here!

Hasta pronto, España – I’ll be back.

 

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