Carpe Diem

Connor R. is currently a junior at SYA Spain and a blogger for the Campus Reporter program. He comes to SYA from St. Paul's School in New Hampshire.

It is not at all uncommon to hear a friend say, “Wait guys, stop. We’re in Spain right now, can you believe that?” at any given time of the day. After two months, the phrase has begun to lose it’s original impact; it usually garners less of a reaction now than it did in September, when there were so many places we hadn’t been, things we hadn’t seen, and people we hadn’t met. That is not to say, however, that my friends and I don’t have these moments anymore; they are still large daily occurrences. What differentiates these exciting realizations we have now from those had in September and October is the sentiment that is associated with them. Now, it feels like we’re living the part rather than just travelling in a foreign country.

During the first few weeks of our time in Zaragoza, just about anything could bring on a “wait, we’re in Spain” moment. It felt like we could hardly make it down Calle Alfonso, beneath the shadow of la Basílica de nuestra Señora del Pilar, without somebody expressing how it still didn’t feel real, living in Spain that is. With hidden plazas, hole-in-the-wall coffee shops, and jamonerías that hang cured legs of ham from the ceiling around nearly every corner, it was difficult not to be enamored with our immediate physical surroundings.

Now, what causes me to stop and reflect more often is the progression of my Spanish skills and the spontaneity of each new day. When my friends and I walk into el Criollo, the coffee shop to which nearly all of us go during our break period, we are always greeted by the baristas; sometimes they even remember my order. While visiting extended host family, I am frequently asked to offer my opinion on whatever the subject matter of the conversation may be. I even find myself speaking Spanish with very little inhibitions, only stumbling over my words when I realize how fast I am speaking. Today, I had a “wow, I’m really in Spain” moment. After speaking Spanish all day with my intercambio (a student from a local high school who attended classes with me at SYA for the day) I crossed Paseo Pamplona and began down Calle Almagro, noticing the bright blue window frames of the building across from mine for the first time. When I got home, I sat beneath my window, stared at the pink sky, and thought about how great it is to be where I am right now; somewhere I couldn’t point out on a map just a little over a year ago, speaking more Spanish than I ever have, and taking advantage of each passing day.

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