Jina Z. is currently a junior at SYA Spain and a blogger for the Campus Reporter program. She comes to SYA from The Thacher School in California.

As we meandered through the mountain roads, soaring mountains surrounded us from all sides. It was barely November, and their peaks already wore a thick blanket of snow. Were it not for the red foliage spread across the valley, and the patches of green where the snow had yet to fall, I would have believed we were deep into winter. My eyes scanned around trying to take it all in, in awe of striking views at each bend in the road. Seeing the Pyrenees that day was like seeing the snow for the first time: no picture in my mind came close to the reality.

My family’s cottage in the little town of Escarilla felt like it came straight out of a movie: stone walls with little circular windows and a sloping roof with dark grey shingles. Inside, small and cozy, perfect for staying in after a day of skiing or hiking in the cold.

On my first night, my host parents prepared a warm roast and we huddled together on the couch watching a Spanish movie. I slept under a pile of blankets tucked so tightly under the bed my feet couldn’t stay upright. The radiator positioned by my head kept my ears warm and my thoughts peaceful. I hadn’t slept so well in ages.

Being in the Pyrenees with my family brought out all my feelings of gratitude for them. It’s hard to put into words how much love and appreciation I have for these people I’ve only known for a few months, or how incredible it is to that they’ve welcomed me into their home and treated me like their daughters and sisters.

Waking up the next morning and opening the blinds, I gasped. Over the roofs of the neighboring stone houses, majestic mountains rose up into the sky. Sunlight poured over a garden out front. For a moment I just stood there, unsure of where I was. I heard my host mom call me, and I when walked into the kitchen, I was welcomed by the smell of Spanish coffee and toasted bread. Looking back towards the window, and I remembered where I was: home.


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