My trip to Spain seems like it was ages ago, but it also feels like I got back yesterday. I have always wanted to travel abroad, but I was never really emotionally ready to leave the country without my parents for a long period of time. However, during the summer of 2017, I got the chance to travel to Madrid, Córdoba, Toledo, Sevilla, and Granada, Spain with people that became my best friends.
Going to Spain was at first a big decision for me because I've never really been one that likes to be away from home. I decided that it would be a good way for me to overcome some of that anxiety since college was in my near future, but I was terrified. Of course though, in order to overcome anxiety, you have to experience it first and then learn how to get through it. That's the unfortunate part.
The trip was amazing and so life-changing. We spent two weeks traveling through different parts of the country, visiting museums, and going to school, all while unknowingly learning more about ourselves. The teachers helped us fully immerse ourselves into the Spanish culture, which, if you didn't know, is very different from American culture in so many ways.
The beginning of the trip was when my anxiety was the worst because not only did I have to spend nine hours on a plane, but as soon as we got there I realized that there were no more burgers or sandwiches. The only thing on the menu was croquetas and tortillas de patatas, and when you're jet-lagged and anxious, that's not really what you want.
As the trip went on, though, I got a lot more adapted and the people who I didn't know on the trip instantly became my best friends. I don't know how they couldn't have, given the fact that we snuck into each other's rooms every night in the hotel to tell stories and bond over how crazy it was that we were actually in Spain.
The second half of the trip, we split up into pairs and got to stay with host families, which honestly is the part of this trip that changed me the most. Every morning we would wake up and our mom would have our breakfast of bread and chocolate spread ready for us while she smoked a cigarette, and her daughters would dance to music while getting ready for school. We then would go to a school of our own, walking through downtown Granada to meet up with our teachers.
Besides learning how to speak better Spanish by taking classes at a local school, this trip taught me a lot. I learned that Spaniards really don't like when you speak English in the streets. I learned that they know a lot more about America than we think, and they definitely have their opinions on us. I learned that Spanish people go to concerts in the mountains and eat dinner at 10 p.m., and they wouldn't have it any other way. I learned that it's really hard to translate names of medicine to Spanish pharmacists.
I learned that Americans value hygiene a little more than the people in Spain, but that they have much more simple and loving way of life than we do. I learned that there is so much to see in this world and that we deserve to see it. I learned that it's not about where you are, it's about the company you have around you. I learned that the places that mean the most to you will always be the hardest to leave, but that they will be waiting for you when you come back.
Traveling to Spain brought me a lot of happiness and my family members would argue a new outlook on life too. Looking back on this trip it is hard for me to choose what the best lesson was that I learned, but I believe that it is this: the only person holding you back from doing anything in this world is yourself. So go do it.