Once in a Lifetime

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.

One of the most omnipresent aspects of my School Year Abroad experience has been the
consistent passage of time. Although what the day will bring remains unsure when I wake up every morning, one thing never changes: that timer, constantly ticking away each moment. Therefore, I have made it a priority of mine to remind myself of this; that May is not a long time away. From building a life with wonderful friends, family, and teachers under the constant ticking of a timer, I have learned to live wholly within time; not in anticipation of that day in May. Like David Byrne acknowledges in his eccentric opus Once in a Lifetime, “Time isn’t after us.”


Much of the thinking and conjecture done about SYA by students, teachers, and parents alike is done regarding what you will be like at the end of the program. While it is of great importance to set goals and often exciting to think about how much you will have grown, I believe it is of paramount importance to recognize how much you’ve developed by paying attention to all of the new, sometimes strange, and always exciting things you’ve had to accustom yourself to. When I carefully dissect my daily routine, I chuckle a little almost every time. I have adopted a language foreign to my awkward tongue as my own, a land unlike any I have ever seen as my home, and certainly unique individuals as my family and friends. I wonder about and am grateful for each and every one of these things, even if I am just laughing at the novelty of it. Although the mind is prone to wander and project, I’ve found it especially grounding to try my best to look through my own eyes and remember just how marvelous today is.


Despite the whirlwind that SYA can often feel like, time never fails to remain constant, unchanging. While this can certainly bring with it anxiety, I have found that the best way to take advantage of the time that remains is to not be ignorant of the fact that we inch closer and closer to the return date every day, but to be wholly conscious of it and the wonderful, sometimes eccentric small things that make up a day here. It is these things that not only remind me to not just let “ … the days go by” and wait for the time to expire, but rather pack in as much as possible into a once in a lifetime experience.

  • Campus Reporters
  • SYA Spain