When applying to study abroad in Alicante, I considered the possibility of finding out where exactly my family came from. I did not have any expectations on who I was going to meet there or if I was going to find any family at all. I knew about some relatives in the north of Spain.
I moved to Alicante without any knowledge of where else I could have family, until one day when I received a call. Some people from my maternal family have a family group chat where we try to communicate daily. I never send messages or respond to any -- until one day I decided to. I greeted everyone from one of our excursions from Alicante, Spain. And I received a call that evening. Her name Genoveva. She told me she was my cousin. I was surprised and happy to receive her call. I had a lot of questions for her, and I wondered how I did not know about her.
She asked me where I was, and when I told her, she said she was there, too. I was not sure if it was crazy coincidence or fate. But after doing some research, we figured out we were just a five-minute walk away from each other. It was so amazing that I had actually found family -- and so close in proximity to me. We agreed to stay in contact, and two weeks after that we met, she cooked food for me. It felt like home and was also my favorite type of rice. We talked for hours. She reconnected with my mother again, and she was as thankful to have met me as I was to meet her. We met one last time before I returned to the U.S., promising each other more visits and more dinners.
After multiple family members found out I was in Spain, they reached out to offer me a place to stay and also offered their time for anything I needed. I have family in Oviedo, Madrid and Alicante, and I'm so happy to have found this out while I was there. I was able to visit and/or meet with three out of the four. I now have four more homes -- and wonderful new family connections -- that I can use as an excuse to come back to Spain.
Thania Inoa De Jesus is the Fall 2019 Alumni Ambassador in Alicante, Spain, and is currently studying at Albright College.