Luke M. is currently a junior at SYA Spain and a blogger for the Campus Reporter program. He comes to SYA from Milton Academy in Massachusetts.
Picking up everything you have ever known and moving to a new place is definitely not easy. Just over a month ago, I had to do exactly that; I said goodbye to my school, to my friends, and saddest of all, to my family. Then, just a quick six hours after leaving American soil, I, along with sixty three other kids just like me, was thrown into my new life in Spain. The first week felt super long. After all, I had to get used to living with a new family and also learn about seventy names of students and faculty. However, the first weekend was great! I traveled to Girona, the city where my Spanish Mom grew up, with my family. We explored the city, swam in the Mediterranean Sea, and ate lunch and dinner with cousins. This first weekend really helped me create a bond with my family, and I felt much more comfortable with them afterwards. These days, I feel completely normal walking into the house after school, almost as if it has been my routine for years. The dinner table is always loud and energetic, and I love walking, going to Zaragoza’s professional team’s basketball games, and watching movies while eating a “flash”, the Spanish version of a freeze pop, with my family.
Despite my strong relationship with my family, my first few days at school were a bit uncomfortable. My brothers had to teach me how to travel to and from school everyday, which was a big change considering I have commuted to my old school in the same way for the last six years. I live in Actur, the barrio in the northwest corner of the city, so I take the tranvía to school every morning. The first time I got on, I was super worried that I was going to do something wrong, but my host brothers helped me out and I got on and paid without any mistakes. Nowadays, navigating the city seems very easy. Although some students might tell you that living across the river from school is inconvenient, I disagree. While those kids may be able to walk to school, I have learned how to use the public transportation to get wherever I want.
One of the things I was most scared about when I first arrived in Spain was how I was going to get along with the other kids in the program. The group flight and the first few days at school were incredibly awkward. Every conversation was forced and speaking in a different language just made it hard to get to know everyone due to the wide range of Spanish levels. However, slowly but surely, the orientation program allowed all of the students to get to know each other, through a mix of in-class and fieldwork activities. All of us have things in common, mainly that we all chose to come and spend a year in a foreign country. However, the best advice that I received was to just take it easy with making friends. By taking a step back and giving yourself time, you allow real, deep friendships to develop. Although we only arrived a little over a month ago, I already feel comfortable with every single student in the program, and I have gained so many new friends.
The first few weeks are undeniably slow and difficult for everyone. However, the discomfort wears off and time starts flying by. My memories of the first few days here seem like they happened months ago. When I first arrived in Zaragoza, I felt out of place wherever I was. Nowadays, hopping on the tranvía, ordering baked goods in cafés, and even walking down the street is so much easier. When I told people last year that I was going to spend a whole year in Spain, almost everyone told me that I was going to be homesick. Although I do believe I will have moments where I feel homesick, I have not felt a desire to return home yet. I definitely miss the idea of home, my family, and my dog, but I have grown to appreciate where I am right now. Zaragoza is quickly becoming less of a foreign city in my eyes and more of a second home.
- Campus Reporters
- SYA Spain