Abby D. is currently a junior at SYA Spain and a Campus Storyteller. She comes to SYA from Milton Academy.
The second week of November, I was lucky enough to travel to Seville, Cádiz, and Córdoba for academic travel. In Seville, I saw the Royal Alcazar and the Seville Cathedral by day and watched families canoe at Plaza de España by night. In Cádiz, I ate incomparable paella and watched the sunset over the cluster of colorful rowboats dotting the harbor. In Córdoba, I had coffee at Plaza de Corredera and saw the Mudejar art I learned about in my SYA art history class on display in Córdoba’s Mosque-Cathedral. The trip was full of unforgettable firsts, however, after five days, it was time to return to Zaragoza.
When my train from Andalusia arrived in Zaragoza, it was pouring rain and windy in the city. The weather was a stark contrast from Andalucía’s sunny skies and gentle breeze. But despite the unpleasant weather, as I took a cab from the train station to my host family’s house, I noticed how comforting it felt to be home again.
Don’t get me wrong - I enjoyed every second of my trip to Andalusia. But visiting Seville, Córdoba, and Cádiz reminded me of my initial, unsettled days in Zaragoza, when I relied completely on Google Maps to find my way around and still felt like I was living out of a suitcase. This time, returning to Zaragoza after my trip felt drastically different. I confidently directed the taxi driver to my host family’s house. Once home, after a hot pizza dinner and a movie with my host sister, I returned my suitcase to the storage room in the basement. As I got ready for bed that night, it hit me that Zaragoza finally felt like a second home.
The day after returning from my trip, I taped a postcard from each city on the wall of my room. I’m used to doing this; in my bedroom in the United States, my bulletin board is covered in postcards from the different places I’ve visited - small souvenirs to bring home from my travels. In retrospect, it should have felt strange to bring Andalusian postcards home to a place that, just months ago, was merely a postcard itself on the wall of my old room back in the United States. But it didn’t. It felt natural. It was in that moment that I realized the magic of SYA, allowing students like me to experience the unfamiliar while simultaneously developing a strong sense of place and belonging. After only three months, Zaragoza truly feels like my home away from home.
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