On January 2, I arrived in Granada, Spain, to begin my study abroad experience. After a seven-hour plane ride, three hour layover, and a connecting flight, I was finally in Granada’s airport. I entered through the airport’s gates to meet Dan, another CEA student, and Jorge and Danny, the representatives from CEA.
From there on, it was a whirlwind for me. I remember getting on the airport bus and saying to myself in awe, “I can’t believe I’m living here for five months.” My state of awe and excitement turned to worry and sadness that same night. After arriving at my homestay and meeting my host family, the fact that I was going to live in a foreign country for five months finally hit me. That night, I cried myself to sleep. I was truly nervous about the unknown: speaking and understanding a language that I wasn’t comfortable with, being alone in a foreign country, and living almost 4,000 miles away from my family and friends for five months. I thought that I had made the wrong decision… maybe study abroad wasn’t right for me.
Mirador de San Nicolas
I can’t believe that was only a month ago. Today, I am truly ecstatic about my study abroad experience. You’re probably thinking to yourself, what about those fears and questioning if study abroad was the right choice? Well, those fears dwindled after a few days of living here. It feels like my Spanish has improved in only a month, especially due to the fact that I’m living with a host family. My host mom, Eva, always makes an effort to understand my intermediate level Spanish, and help me improve my language skills. She patiently waits for me to speak until I think of what conjugation to use when forming a sentence. She also words statements in different ways when I don’t understand the original one.
After just a month, I understand more Spanish and speak more than I thought I ever would. As for being alone in a foreign country, I’ve realized that this certainly isn’t the case. Through my CEA program, I was able to meet other study abroad students through planned activities and events. These students are some of the most welcoming people I’ve ever met. I feel like we’re all eager to get to know each other, as we all probably experienced some shared fears and anxiety about studying abroad.
Living with my roommate, Katy, has definitely made the adjustment to living in Spain easier as well. I didn’t have to worry about getting lost alone in Granada; Katy was there by my side to navigate the city. Living away from my family and friends is still the most difficult aspect of studying abroad for me. I don’t know where I would be without their constant support and encouragement, through cards, messages, or video chats.
Through taking classes, going on activities and excursions, and exploring Granada, there are some days where I don’t even think about being away from home. In just a short period of time, I have taken trips to the Sierra Nevadas, and Barcelona with my friends that I’ve met in my program. I’ve also had the opportunity to tour the Alhambra, visit different cafes and tapas bars, as well as complete an intensive course of Spanish. In a short month, I’ve overcome challenges and made memories that will last a lifetime. I can’t wait to see what these next four months have in store for me.
Mia Polizzotto is the Spring 2014 CEA MOJO in Granada, Spain. She is currently a junior at York College of Pennsylvania.
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