Arcadia W. is currently a junior at SYA Spain. She comes to SYA from Irvington High School (NY). Read more of Arcadia's Campus Reporter work throughout the year here.
Three months left, absolutely unbelievable! As I look back to last September and the person that came to Spain, I feel as though it has been years, but I also feel as though these past six months have flown by in a series of amazing, action-packed events.
The amount of freedom and responsibility given throughout this year will allow you to truly find yourself, your values and most importantly your people. I like to describe this year as a clean slate; coming to Spain, you are not only able to be yourself, you are almost forced to become the person that you are destined to be.
You will soon come to understand the term "independence". While it's true that your Spanish mom loves to cook for you, there are many aspects aside from food that you will learn to make a part of your daily routine. On your thirty minute Tranvía ride, you might realize that shampoo and conditioner is way heavier to carry than you thought, not to mention that it runs out all the time and you have to replace it. Living with a foreign family forces you to actively decide how you want to present yourself. Whereas at home, it's easy not to care about making your bed or doing the dishes; when you live with new people these once chores are now things you voluntarily do. This is not to say that over the course of nine months you have to hide your messiness, only that you might strive to be a generous, active member of your family.
Money! This will definitely be a difficult period for everyone. I highly recommend making yourself a budget, and being aware of your spending as this can definitely be difficult at first. Although clothes are much cheaper here in Spain, be careful not be fooled, as everything adds up.
It's up to you...
Your life in Spain has the potential to be action packed with adventures and culture. While this is true, it is up to you to take advantage of these opportunities that you are given. SYA will help you complete meaningful volunteer work, sports, cultural learning and even help you gain work experience if that is what you desire, but you have to remember to fully utilize these great resources. While school work is most definitely a priority, it is vitally important to make use of these unique opportunities.
You will most likely leave SYA with a specialty degree in travel planning. One of our favorite activities at SYA is independent travel, where once you reach a degree of language acquisition and are academically secure, you are given permission to travel with a group of three friends completely on your own. While SYA is very involved in making sure your travel plans are secure, you and your friends must complete the itinerary and book the trains, planes and hostels. The trust and confidence that you gain as a result of this freedom to travel will make future traveling seem like a breeze.
Above all, this year will be one huge adventure. You will make countless memories and experience independence. There will be a learning curve on just about everything, but every step is a great accomplishment. Remember to enjoy your time in Spain, take advantage of all the incredible opportunities and disfruta la vida!!