Studying abroad. Those two words have been in my head for years and years and finally it’s happened. I’ve done it. I studied abroad in Madrid, Spain, and can cross it off my bucket list. While I am beyond thrilled this happened, I’m also mourning that it is over. Studying abroad is like Christmas decorations, here’s why:
|Arbol de Navidad en Plaza del Sol|
At first everything is beautiful and bright and new, like the huge Christmas tree in Plaza del Sol.
|Arbol de luces en Sintra, Portugal|
The newness wears off and suddenly you are immersed in this foreign world. You only see a lining of it all like the beautiful light displays in Sintra, Portugal. You see locals and you understand they are different from you and their city is ambiguous still, but you aren’t sure how. This is where you decide what your trip will mean to you and how you want to fill it.
|El camino a Palacio Pena en SIntra, Portugal|
You start getting comfortable in places and have a suggestion finally when someone asks where to go…”Malasana anyone?” The DNA of your trip starts to form and you feel yourself referring to your apartment as home and start to really make a life for yourself in the new city.
|Luces en Malasaña como DNA en su vida|
If you are lucky you then reach the amazing phase where you feel home. You’ve made so many friends and have so many memories that the outline from stage 2 is completely full, as is your heart. Time starts to fly and you’re just thinking of making the most of it all. It’s a whirlwind of emotions but it goes up, not down and you feel like you’re flying.
I write the last phase with a heavy heart, as I am going through it now. This is where you have said all of your “see you laters” and you are in the airport thinking about where it time went. You have all the memories and the photos to prove it happened, but it still doesn’t feel real. Time went by so fast and just like when midnight hits in Madrid and all the lights go out, you aren’t ready.
|Las luces despues de 24:00 en Madrid|
This is a beautiful time and it is hard to let go of, however, Christmastime is not a one time event. It occurs once a year to be exact. I cannot promise once a year, but I can promise that I will hold onto what I’ve gained in Madrid; the relationships, the skills, the knowledge, and the confidence. I will go home a new and better person with more love and understanding in my heart than ever. If you are even slightly considering studying abroad, do it. It’s an experience everyone should feel.
Briana Young is the Fall 2015 CEA MOJO in Madrid, Spain. She is currently a junior at University of South Carolina.
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