Even though I am sitting in the Madrid airport watching planes and people come and go, I still can’t really believe that I am officially studying abroad. I have wanted to study abroad ever since I knew that such an option existed, and what better place to improve my Spanish and experience a wide variety of cultures than Spain. Settling on a city, however, was a more difficult decision. I chose Santiago de Compostela because it is an uncommon destination for most English-speakers, and one of my goals for this semester is deep linguistic and cultural immersion. Further, the University of Santiago de Compostela is one of the oldest and most prestigious schools in Spain, and it has renowned departments of Psychology and Spanish Philology and Literature, which are my areas of major study. Judging by the smiles, the nods of approval, and the words of happy surprise Spaniards have offered in response to my decision, I think I have made a good choice.
I know that the next 126 days are going to be some of the most memorable days of my life, and I am certainly off to a good start! The young woman who checked my bags in Boston and I have friends in common, and she kindly gave me a free pass to the Iberia VIP lounge to wait for my flight. On the plane to Madrid, I was fortunate enough to sit next to a kind Spaniard who has been completing her post-doctorate at Boston University, and she offered me invaluable advice on moving to Spain in addition to coaching me on a few Spanish colloquialisms and idiomatic expressions. And as I have been sitting here in the Madrid airport, I have met a gentleman from Majorca (a Spanish island in the Mediterranean) who is traveling to San Francisco, and we have swapped travel tips and touristy information about our respective destinations. And I haven’t even arrived at Santiago de Compostela yet!
It’s hard to believe all of the steps that it has taken to get me to this seat in the Madrid airport. Tentative planning, preliminary applications, meetings, course approval forms, letters of intent, final applications, academic contracts, housing questionnaires, more meetings, Spanish fluency-level placement tests, dorm-room reservations, visa applications, host family introductions, money transfers, booking flights, buying luggage, opening bank accounts, writing letters, coordinating phone plans, packing, researching, running errands, stressing, repacking, see-you-laters, lots of hugs, and, finally, getting on the plane. I would not be sitting in this seat without the unwavering support of many, many people. Thank you all for believing in me and for allowing me this opportunity.
Quote of the week: “Every man dies. Not every man lives.” -Tim Robbins