Lili S. is currently a junior at SYA Spain and a blogger for the Campus Reporter program. She comes to SYA from Sidwell Friends in Washington, D.C.
Today marks 100 days left of SYA Spain for the class of 2018-2019. That means it’s been 164 days since we all met in the Boston Logan Airport, a bundle of nerves, excitement, and more anticipation than any of the 63 of us had ever felt before in our lives. Since then, we have been through it all: friendships, relationships, break-ups, nights of laughing so hard we cried, nights of simply crying, nights that will go down in the books as some of the best of our lives. Now that we only have 100 days left, it feels like everything that took forever first semester is suddenly flying by.
Being grounded is a feeling that we all scramble to find while studying abroad. It’s hard to realize the importance of being grounded until you move to a foreign country, but once you discover that, it is impossible to imagine that you ever relied on something or someone else to help you with the idea of knowing who you are. Pilar is the center of this city, Zaragoza’s grounding. Everything and everyone revolves around its plaza. It’s funny now to me to think of something that’s so obvious and central could hold so much importance for me personally, but I guess it makes sense. But our Pilar Talks didn’t start until mid-January. The night of the first Pilar Talk was freezing, and it was almost 9 o’clock at night by the time my friends and I had finished our homework. Now usually we all walk home together, because the three of us all live off of Paseo de la Independencia. Granted, in different directions, but still all more or less in the same area. That night; however, instead of walking straight, past Calle Alfonso, one of us decided to turn towards the giant basilica decorated with blue, yellow, and green tiles. By the time we reached the steps across the plaza from the church, we had not only delved into how we were all feeling that day and why we were feeling it, but we had started to get into bigger topics: what we had learned about ourselves and life during the past 164 days, what the next 100 hold, and how they will never possibly be enough. As we continued our talk, we grew tired of standing, and all taking a break to think, we watched jóvenes roller blade through little plastic cones, listening to what we consider basic American pop music, twirling and enjoying the big space and company of friends. We stayed there, sitting on those steps, looking up at the gargoyles and tiles and just jaw-dropping grandness of Pilar until we had to go home for curfew. As we walked back, we each felt weight lift from our shoulders. It was all different amounts of weight, and we all still carried lots of our own individual thoughts and experiences, but I think we all realized something that night.
Although I can’t speak for my friends, I had the ability to reflect on how much I have changed since August 31st. I have become more confident than I ever was at home, I stand up for myself and what I believe in without any second-guessing, I can go up to strangers on the street and not be afraid to ask them questions in Spanish, and I am learning how to surround myself with things and people that make me truly happy.
There’s still a lot to learn. There always will be. This world is huge. Zaragoza still has way more than 100 days of new experiences to offer me, but within these next 100, I plan to make the most of what I can discover, and I plan to continue to seek out adventure and push the limits of comfort. Because at the end of the day, the truest lessons you will ever learn have to come from you relying on yourself and what you can offer this world.
So here’s to the next 100, and the 264 that next year’s kids get in this insane experience. It goes fast. So use your time doing things that better you, that make you smile, and that ground you. Your past will be there waiting for you, and your future is already shaping up as you grow. Now is the only time you get in SYA. And you’re going to learn more about yourself in the nine months here than the past 16 years of your life.
- Campus Reporters
- SYA Spain