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.
After spending four months here in Spain, both Zaragoza and my host family have become second homes for me. Therefore, as December break approached, I was nervous. How would I interact with my American family after four months away, how would my two families get along? My life in Zaragoza was finally comfortable for me, and I was nervous that winter break and the arrival of my American family would somehow destroy that.
On the night of the SYA holiday party, my American Mom texted me that my family had arrived and were waiting for me at the Airbnb. I was sitting on the couch at my host family’s house watching TV with my host brother and I must admit that I decided to ignore the text for about twenty minutes: I was truly nervous and the show we were watching was interesting. Eventually, I forced myself to pick up the phone and then to head over to see my family. During the walk over to them I felt a bit perturbed, as if my American family was infringing on my new life. Being with them in Zaragoza simply did not feel comfortable. Of course I was dying to see them, but Zaragoza had become my very own experience and sharing it with them seemed like a daunting task.
However, the moment I saw my family, all of these worries disappeared. All of my concerns about not being able to relate to them as easily anymore were immediately thrown out of the window. After long hugs, we all began to walk the streets that just a few minutes ago seemed like something I could not possibly share with them. Even though they will never be able to see the city as I do, my family was still able to appreciate Zaragoza in the little time they were here. Although I know I have changed so much over the past four months, I quickly realized that I had not grown as distant as I thought I might have; instead, we seemed to surprisingly grow closer as we reconnected and enjoyed Spain together.
Another moment I was dreading was the moment when my two families would finally meet. Although I had told each of them about the other and a few blurry Facetime calls allowed them to hear each others’ voices, their lives were completely separate and I was unsure of how to bridge them. So, when my host family invited my American family to go out for tapas, a unique Spanish way of eating where you go to a bunch of restaurants for a quick bite at each, I immediately groaned silently. I knew that my two families needed to meet but I wasn’t excited for my two very separate worlds to converge. Also, I knew how awkward it would be for eleven people to go around to tapas bars that usually only fit about twenty as a maximum. Despite my concerns, we all met up one night and found our way to the first restaurant. There, my host family tried to explain the Spanish food and customs to my siblings. Quickly, the adults all connected and began to talk while the kids were left to themselves. While all of my parents were having a great time, the kids struggled a little more. Both my host siblings and real siblings were talking with me, yet not to one another. I had to keep changing my language from English to Spanish and continually felt like I was excluding someone. After about thirty minutes of this flip-flopping, we finally all moved to the next tapas bar.
At the next few tapas bars, everyone seemed to relax a little. The adults began to include the kids in the conversations, and the kids also began to interact too. Maybe it was due to the delicious shared plates of huevos rotos that the kids all dove into together, but everyone started to get to know each other a little more. I remember my Mom asked my host sister about college and my brother talked to my host brothers about the Celtics. At the end of the night, everyone was laughing and sharing messy El Champi sandwiches and we made plans to meet up again the next day.
Change is uncomfortable--I've experienced it every day for the last four months. It is always easier for things to stay the same. However, one of the main things that SYA has taught me this year is to not fear change, but rather to try to embrace it. Yes, it takes time to get used to the new circumstances, but time always does its job and the pain of change always disappears. The new experiences we gain are always worth the discomfort they might require.
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- SYA Spain