July 2, 2008
I’m home. A word of comfort to anyone starting to freak out about spending the next ten months abroad: this day will arrive.
I got back last Wednesday night. After over twenty-four hours of travel, it was a great surprise to see a big group of friends and family waiting for me in the T. F. Green airport with a welcome home sign. This spectacle was much more pleasant than the one I caused back in August, sobbing by the security checkpoint. I’m proud to announce that my year has come full circle; tears were shed as I left Coruña as well.
The last few days there were a whirlwind. After officially passing all of our classes (hooray!) Maggie and I went to Santiago to see Juanes in concert. It was excellent. Then on Monday we celebrated the famous San Juan festival. Just as the coruñeses had boasted, the already majestic city became absolutely enchanting as the beaches lit up with bonfires and everyone stayed out all night long, chowing down on fresh sardines in the streets. The night wasn’t without its casualties; a ligament in my host mom’s leg is torn (the result of a particularly high jump), my shoes are lost and Maggie’s camera battery is floating somewhere on the far side of the Atlantic ocean. Even so, San Juan was amazing and was a great way to spend my last night in Coruña.
Saying goodbye to my host family was the hardest part of leaving Coruña. This year was wonderful in so many ways, but the host family experience stands out as the best part of it. I can’t think of a better way to get fully immersed in the Spanish culture and really learn the language than to live with a family. Especially living with two adolescents, someone was always talking in the house, and in order to feel like a true part of the family I had to step it up and talk back. By the end of the year, an outsider looking in at our chaotic kitchen table would have thought that I was a real family member. They’d wonder why I was so much larger than everyone else, and why my accent was so strange, but they’d see that I belonged there.
And really, I think that’s what study abroad is all about – learning to belong somewhere you don’t. This year was a year away from anything and everything I was used to and I’ve become a different person because of it. I drink coffee now, for example, and enjoy cod. But there have been deeper changes, too, changes I can’t recognize yet but know are there. This experience fits in perfectly with the liberal arts education and I am so glad that I took advantage of it.
It’s been a pleasure keeping this blog. Thanks for reading it! If you’re about to go abroad, you’re about to have the experience of a lifetime. Enjoy! And if you’re considering going abroad, do. I read somewhere last summer that any reason to go is a good one and after this year, I can say that I agree. Don’t doubt yourself too much, just do it. You won’t regret it.