I recently celebrated my six-month anniversary here in Madrid, Spain. It is crazy to think that I have been away from my friends, family and home for half a year. The fact that my time is half over has left me with mixed feelings. I can now say that I have successfully survived my first semester at a foreign university, have nearly completely adapted to a new way of life and survived a full six months abroad without any sign of extreme homesickness. When I look back at my time in Madrid I cannot believe all that I have accomplished and how fast time has gone by.
When I first decided to study abroad for an academic year instead of a semester I had plenty of doubts. People warned me that I would miss home, fellow students told me I was crazy for choosing to miss out on an entire year in Bloomington and my family and friends begged me not to leave for such a long period of time. I also pondered all of these ideas before leaving. Right before I left for Madrid I again thought that I was completely crazy for choosing to leave my home for a year and I was overwhelmingly worried about the length of time I would be spending in a different country. However, the moment my flight landed in Madrid any doubt I had was left in the United States and I have never looked back.
Now that I am half way through my study abroad experience it is a great time to assess what I have accomplished and how I have changed during my time here in Spain. First, my language skills have drastically improved, as has my understanding of Spanish culture. The small cultural things that once annoyed me I have now found myself doing. I seem to have adapted the “no pasa nada” mentality that is ever so present in Spanish society. However, as proud as I am to have integrated into Spanish society I have a feeling that showing up late to everything, walking at a turtle-like pace and not eating dinner till midnight or later will not cut it once I get back to the states. At the beginning of the year my director told us that by the time we left we would find ourselves so accustomed to the Spanish way of life that we would grow to resent cultural costumes in the United States. At the time I thought she was crazy but I can now say that the thought of passing people speaking English on the street and shaking hands rather than kissing someone hello scares the living daylights out of me.
Knowing that my time in Spain is half way over has left me both happy and sad. I am so excited to return home in a few short months to see my family for the first time in almost a year. I am excited to eat all of my favorite foods, watch my favorite TV shows and enjoy all my favorite American things. However, at the same time I cannot believe how fast time has gone by and how quickly I will be leaving a place I now consider home. The past six months I have spent in Spain are without a doubt the greatest of my life and I can only hope that the next few months before I head back home will be even better.