I am now facing just three more days until I have to say goodbye to Spain. I will cherish every moment of the last three and a half months that I have lived here.The concept of life after study abroad now seem unimaginable. It even seems like nothing will ever be as good as this chapter in life was. There have been so many great memories, so many magical experiences and so many nights without sleep because there was always too much to do and never enough time.
Studying abroad was great, but a new mentality and boundless inspiration will stick around a lot longer than the academic lessons I endured. I willingly stepped out of my comfort zones, boosted my self-confidence, learned new lingo, expanded my boundaries, broke all of my misconceptions, absorbed another culture, made friends in a crowd of strangers, and participated in activities that would make people gawk back home.
One of the most liberating realizations of studying and traveling abroad is embracing the role you play in the world. Through studying abroad, I have learned the true value of not only myself, but of those around me.
Sometimes, in order to understand the value of things in life you need to see a gypsy woman barely capable of mobility, holding out her frail hand repetitiously for hours in search of small change in order to understand just how much you have in life. Or to attempt to fit all of your possessions into a single carry-on for a Ryanair flight.
Travel enables the appreciative side of you to surface to the top. You become appreciative of electricity, toilet seat liners, clothes dryers, central air, and carpeting. Dependency upon material possessions and luxuries tend to fade away, and that void is replaced with gratitude for the bare necessities.
Sometimes, you don’t realize how many things you have, either in your possession or back home, until you put restrictions or comparisons on it. Just the mere fact of traveling abroad, is proof that you are well off: Everything abroad in the beginning seems impressive and worth trying. Everything abroad in the beginning also tempts you to consume it or try it consistently. The thought of getting tired of Iberian or Jamon Serrano or tapas might seem ludicrous, but after a month or so you would pay a lot of euros for a fresh salad or a freshly prepared juice from the local health food store.
You learn to appreciate family gatherings and even small hugs. Thanksgiving with the family sounds like the best gift of the season. As I reminiscence over my fantastic journey, I wouldn’t change any aspect of it, not even squeezing my daughter’s and I lives into carry on luggage and getting lost several dozen times on the train in Paris, Spain, and Germany. As I now prepare to return to the states with two or three of everything in tow; two SIM cards, two bank accounts, two different debit cards, two types of coins and paper cash, and two or more types of lens to view the world from I feel truly appreciative.