I remember starting the countdown to Spain in the beginning of the semester on my phone. On that first day it read 138 days. I recall thinking that it would feel like forever until that day came. Boy was I was wrong. Just like that, I am very deep into trying to fit my whole life into one suitcase.
My family is fairly small. It is just my parents, my little sister Erin, and I. You could count our two yellow labs Sophie and Summer too, if you want. They honestly take up more room and require much more attention than Erin and I. Last night we were relaxing and playing “Apples to Apples”. My mom started a new tradition to give us one board game for Christmas, since neither myself nor Erin (15 years old) ask for them anymore. It was a quality family night, so I knew that it was the perfect time to share my Separation letter. I did so at our kitchen table once we had finished dinner. Family dinners mean a lot to us, so I knew it would be perfect. Before reading the letter I was really nervous. I know that my family wants nothing but the best for me, but it’s hard for me to openly express emotions such as these.
I began by reading a Mark Twain quote that states: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” I chose this quote because I know that the only thing that worries my family about my time abroad is my safety. The world that we live in now is a scary place. I know that every time something happens in Europe, such as the truck attacks, my family gets anxious. Although they are worried, they try not to let it show because they know that nothing they say can make me stay home. I firmly believe that
these times may be scary, but that shouldn’t keep you from an experience such as this. If not now, when? I can’t think of another time in life where it is as simple as this to just get up and move to another country. If we let fear control our lives, we will never experience what the world has to offer. Sharing this quote definitely was the right choice. My dad was the first to respond. It started out with a quiet “you’re right.” My father was a first responder during 9/11 and ever since then I think he’s become much more apprehensive. You can’t really blame him for that. But what he said next really resonated with me. He told me how proud of me he is for taking this leap and that although he will always be nervous, he knows I’m capable of taking on all that is to come. My mom was a little quieter than I expected. My mom is my best friend and my biggest supporter. I think that she really enjoys having me home since my sister is really quiet. Me leaving after a long break is always hard for her, but I think this fear of the unknown for her is even harder. She reassured me as well, saying that this is the experience of a lifetime and it would be a mistake to pass it up. Erin was quiet, but said she would miss me and that she was excited to visit in February.
I believe that I am ready to begin this experience and separate from the life that I know. I’m not too worried about the separation aspect of this journey. The only thing I can see myself having a hard time with is accepting the new concept of time and routine. Living in New York has given me such a fast-paced mentality. I need to accept that not everything is going to go according to plan, and that’s ok! A successful experience for me would leave me much more knowledgeable about Spanish culture. I want to not only learn about it, but experience it. I would be disappointed if I didn’t befriend a local by the end of my time abroad. As Slimach says, “…merely learning about the world is not enough. Global learning must not be only in the world but also for it” (pg 8). Being successful to me is also to travel and learn about more than just the Spanish culture. However, Spanish culture is my top priority and I would find myself unsuccessful if I neglect what is right in front of me and focus solely in travel. I am fully prepared to expect the unexpected and accept it. I am going to focus on my wanderlust and try to get lost and enjoy everything Barcelona has to offer. I am most looking forward to this new lifestyle and new friendships, especially those found in the most unexpected places.
The photo I chose to represent my experience thus far is one from my trip with Quinnipiac to Nicaragua. In the photo we were in the city of Leon, and I took a minute to go sit by myself and just breathe.
This was my first time truly traveling alone.When we left for Nicaragua, I had only met the people I was traveling with just a few times in an awkward classroom situation. I remember sitting there, overlooking the city and feeling so small and overwhelmed by my surroundings. Yet I also felt empowered, knowing that I was about to experience one of the best weeks of my life. I feel like I am in this state now, just a few days away from departure. It seems as though I am stuck in this anticipatory phase, where I am sitting still yet I understand the capacity of what is to come. I am ready to start this new chapter of my life, as I was when I was sitting on that ledge. Now all I have to do is take the leap.
ÅKERSTRÖM, L. (2008, March 7). The 50 most inspiring travel quotes of all time. Retrieved January 05, 2017, from https
Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub., LLC, 2010. Print.