It’s crazy to think about, but as I write my last blog post of the semester, I’m sitting in my favorite coffee shop in Michigan. People around me are laughing, joking, and arguing in English, they’re playing blues on the radio, and my coffee is huge! Needless to say, the last month has brought some major changes 🙂
But before stepping onto my last international flight (for a while, at least) and watching way too many airplane movies (Robert De Niro is fantastic, isn’t he?), my family flew out to join me in Oviedo. I had three days to show them where I had made my home, and for them to meet the wonderful people that had become my family when I was away. After that, we enjoyed a week and a half exploring the south of Spain, and then another ten days traveling France and Italy. Our travels took us from Oviedo to Córdoba, Granada, Barcelona, Cartagena, the Rock of Gibraltar, Marseilles, Aix-en-Provence, Genoa, Florence, and Rome. It was a whirlwind of languages, cultures, ice cream and gelato (because I 100% got my sweet tooth from my family) and I absolutely loved it!
It’s hard to pinpoint my favorite memory from the trip. It was incredible to show my family the Alhambra in Granada, where I first decided two years ago that the next time I came to Spain, I would have to take my family with me. It was also amazing to explore the new cities with them and find our favorite spots, from the fountain where we picnicked in Aix-en-Provence, to one of our favorite pizza places in Rome. Overall, though, I think the best part of my family coming out to join me (other than the fact that we were all together again, of course) was being able to show them around Oviedo. They ate a carbayón from Rialto bakery, hiked the trail leading up to Naranco, and even strolled through the magical Parque San Francisco at night in the rain (due to a perfectly timed shower on our last day). They got to meet my host mother, my awesome site directors Carmen and Silvia, and my best friends abroad from GEO, Emily, Maddie, Liahna, and Adam. I loved having them there not only because I got to show them the places that I had been talking about for the last several months, but also because I knew that by sharing my home with them, I would always have my amazing memories of Oviedo.
Going into this last semester, I figured that I would improve my Spanish. I guessed that I would travel around Europe, and I hoped that I would make some friends. I could never have predicted, though, how amazing it would be to practice my Spanish with my conversation partners, or with the students I was helping teach English. I couldn’t have pictured all of the wonderful places I would explore, or the memories I would create. From splashing on the beach in Santorini, to ordering our morning baguette in Paris, I loved every second. And of course, there is no way in the world I could have imagined the people I would meet, or the friendships I would make, all of which I’m happy to say didn’t end when I left Spain. Anyone who spoke to me before I went knew that study abroad was a dream I’d held on to since I was really young. I wanted to grow up (and at the age of nine, nineteen did seem pretty grown up) and live in another country. I wanted to take classes in another language, meet up with my friends and travel, and make a new city my home. That has always been my dream, and – for me, at least – it’s absolutely unbelievable to realize that that dream has happened. I’ve reached the dream that has been such a big part of my life for so many years, and I can’t wait to see what I get to dream up next.
Thank you for sharing it with me,
Laura, Mom, and me in the Piazza De Ferrari in Genoa. After getting lost 3 (4?5?) times, we finally made it to the fountain!