Un Viaje Salvaje (A Wild Ride)

Melinda D. is currently a junior at SYA Spain and a blogger for the Campus Reporter program. She comes to SYA from Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C.

The sun began to set as my friends and I walked all the way to the very end of a very, very long line. Colorful flashing lights were at every turn, nearly everyone wore a smile, and the smell of fresh churros could be picked up as we nervously laughed and joked about what we were getting ourselves into. You see, we had just bought tickets for the tallest ride (and fastest, clocking in at about 165km/h) at las ferias- the local fair that is currently open for the Festival del Pilar. Now, for some people, (like the fellow SYA students that accompanied me) roller coasters were no sweat at all. That’s definitely not the case for me. I’ve got a bad fear of heights and, actually, this was my first real montaña rusa. My attempts at humor and ticket fondling increased the closer we got to the coaster, but I wasn’t able to conceal my rising nervousness- the movement seemed so much slower when we were at the back of the line. 

Then it began. I don’t even remember how many rounds the coaster made. It swung around and around, taking everyone on the ride from close to the fairgrounds to up high above it all. At times it felt as if we would fall out of our seats or that the air had been knocked out of our lungs. Hair was flying everywhere, the rushing wind made tears escape my eyes, and the coaster continued to speed up as if it would never end. Sometimes we’d all laugh and sometimes we’d all scream, then laugh at our screaming. Then everything stopped. We had a bird eye’s view of not just the fairground, but Zaragoza around it. The sun had fully set, it was dark and all of the lights were so beautiful. Then the ride slowly lowered back to the ground. Once we stepped off of the platform, I was disoriented yet so glad I decided to get myself a ticket! Every time I heard the following people screaming as they swung back down low to the grounds, I couldn’t help but laugh and wish I was in one of those seats. 

So, you might be thinking to yourself, “Alright Melinda, you finally decided to be a big kid and ride a rollercoaster- what does this have to do with deciding to study abroad?”

Great question. Well, this experience is a parallel for what the first weeks, the first month, of being abroad has felt like so far: exciting, disorienting, challenging, rewarding- you get the metaphor. When I made the decision to attend SYA, it felt as if the departure date was lightyears away. Then, as summer dwindled away, I felt as if it was racing towards me and accompanied by eagerness and anxiety. The arrival is overwhelming yet so exhilarating. Now, a month has flown by in Zaragoza and I know I’ve made one of the best decisions of my life. I never want to get off of this roller coaster.

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