As my time abroad comes to a close, I have been reflecting on all the sweet little things that have made my time so special, and a few of the things that have made it hard. To sum it all up, I made two lists. 30 things I will miss, and 5 that I won’t.
- When mi hermanito Juanito peeks his face into my room and I get to wake up to his sweet giggle and smile
2. KARROL’S AMAZING SOUPS: Pumpkin garbanzo, lentil vegetable, pork adobo.
3. Café con leche y cortados at fun Spanish cafes.4. Cesar hijo’s many alteregos! I never know if I will come home to Cesar hijo, superman, spiderman, a power ranger, or a caballero. I also never know if I am the good guy or the bad guy… until I am struck down by una espada. “Si, Cesar, estoy muerta… como siempre.”
5. Worshipping in Spanish
6. Local fresh food markets and Spanish grocery stores. (Huge hunks of specialty cheese for a euro or two? Yes please.)7. Walking home really late and feeling perfectly safe
8. Picnics in the many beautiful parks of Madrid, on the docks of Barcelona, or by the shore in Lake Como. No matter where in the world I am, if I had to describe by favorite part of abroad in one word, “picnics” would be a strong contender.
10. Long breakfasts with Amalie! Avocado toast, coffee, and journaling by this roommate turned soul sister of mine are my favorite. Honestly, I will miss everything about her and know I have found a lifelong friend in this little room of ours.
11. Rooftop sunsets
12. Hushed conversation about human rights, politics, religion, and personal philosophy of life with my host mom Bela after the kids go to bed
13.Weekly coffee/philosophy/catch up dates with Dan
14. Amazing, homemade, 3 course, dinners on the terrace. With Amalie, of course.
15. BESOS! Why don´t Americans kiss each other more? It is the warmest thing ever. Try to be mean to someone after they have just warmly kissed you on the cheek, I dare ya.
16. César padre teaching me how to pronounce Spanish words and cook Spanish foods… syllable by syllable, ingredient by ingredient.
17. My bible study: Half Catholic, half prodestant…. All just trying to figure out how to love a little better and know Jesus a little more.
18. “Quieres pan?” The question of the semester, honestly.
19. Churros, coffee, and looooong, unrushed conversation after the service at my church here. When I leave church 2.5 hours after I arrive, I am leaving early. That is special.
20. La gente de Iglesia Evangélica de Cristo Vive. These people are special, and I am especially thankful to Gabi and Sarah, and Yolanda and Ekir for welcoming me into their families and making me feel known here.
21. Professor Elvira, Marcus, and Molly. The most fun public health and social justice research team ever. It has been such a privilege to learn about privilege with you, and brainstorm about how to break down systems that perpetuate privilege for some and oppress others.
22. The metro. I am convinced that Madrid has the greatest public transportation system in the world, and I am returning to places where public transport is objectively horrible.
23. Saying “Claro” and “Vale” way more than I actually should to make it seem like I know what I am talking about.
24. The delicious, seedy, grainy, wheaty bread my host mom buys that I consume copious amount of every day.
25. Making lunch with Yolanda at Eker’s mountain house. I can never cut fast enough or cook well enough to really help, so my main contribution is helping eat it all. While every moment in this little refuge is special, the ones around the dinner table are my favorites.
26. My friend Elvis’s smile and greeting every day when I pass by or sit and chat with him. He is a man experiencing homelessness from Romania, and we used to chat every day on my way to and from school in the little Spanish we both know. He isn’t there anymore, and I didn’t get to say bye, which is a bummer.
27. Having a glass of wine and listening to live music at Café Barbieri while feeling very adult with Amalie, Dan, and Andrew.
28. Being able to operate without a daily planner.
29. Kirstin’s ability to sum up all my thoughts much more eloquently than I can, Maggie’s joy, Amalie’s honesty and vulnerability, Michaela’s steadfastness and obvious love of Jesus, Gabi’s infectious laugh, Ana’s depth and gentle spirit, Anna’s dance moves, Emily’s depth of humility and encouraging words, Molly’s ability to never take herself too seriously.
30. BlaBla Car. Uber for long distances is essentially the greatest thing ever. The cheapest way to travel, and best way to meet cool Spaniards.
Life was not always easy. Expressing myself and understanding others was incredibly hard sometimes, and there were a few cultural things I could not quite adjust to.
- Jamón. I am so sorry, Spain, but I neither want to see a bag of Jamón flavored anything nor a huge pig leg hanging from the ceiling for the rest of my life.
- Not being able to understand/make jokes (The one time I was funny in Spanish was probably the peak of my entire abroad experience… but it was literally one time.)
- Never being able to get quite the whole meaning of what people are saying. Major theme, no hay problema. Actual understanding of the cultural context of the exact words used and their connotations… nunca.
- Men speaking in bad English to me when I pass them at a bar. I don´t know why, but I hate this a lot.
- Sometimes feeling like an intruder or outsider because I am not Spanishç
I am excited to go home, but sad to leave. Thanks for all the little joys, Spain. You will be deeply missed.