Eleanor L. is currently a junior at SYA Spain and a blogger for the Campus Reporter program. She comes to SYA from Germantown Friends School in Pennsylvania.
It’s surprisingly easy to separate the life I live here, abroad in Spain, from the life I lived back home in the US. I’ve been surrounded by so much that is new throughout these past few months, which has steadily evolved to become routine. This new routine differs from the one I had back home, making it feel as if what I’m currently experiencing is its own adventure, tangential to my “real” life.
The first four months of this journey held moments of joyous courage and genuine fascination. With permission and encouragement from SYA, I embarked on my first independent travel to the beautiful Sevilla -- an experience studying abroad uniquely allows. From that trip to my first time celebrating the traditional holiday los Reyes Magos, I am starting to appreciate the pure excitement that comes from getting to know a culture. I’ve also gained confidence in myself to pursue the unknown.
Apart from all the exceptional “firsts” I’ve been seeking and conquering abroad, there are countless little things that make up the new routine of this year; from the split decision I must make walking home to either go through the Plaza de Miguel Salamero or on the Avenue of César Augusto, to the sweet nod a group of women never fail to direct my way as I walk to my English tutoring lessons. The world I’ve chosen to interact with is becoming less and less “foreign”, molding me into an eager absorber of “new”.
Even though this year is its own sort of adventure, my biggest connection to home is through my parents. As a result, I was a bit anxious to see them again for winter break. I hadn’t been in such close physical proximity to what I left behind in quite some time. SYA held a shadowing day on the Friday before break so that family members could visit the classes their kids have been taking. Though my parents were unable to attend, I walked them -- literally -- through parts of my new routine when they arrived towards the end of break. We translated who we’ve always been as a threesome back home into how we interacted with Zaragoza. For example, we visited museums I hadn’t had the chance to see, just like we try to do every weekend back home.
When my parents met my Spanish host family, I was the translator who literally enabled them to communicate. We enjoyed dinner at a traditional Spanish restaurant, and spent the night talking about our now-intersecting lives. Seeing how my two families got along, it was clear to me how thoughtful SYA had been in selecting my host family. And yet my host family sees me in a different context than my parents do, which was fun to observe as they interacted. Having both my families sitting with me -- the people who provide for me, support and talk to me, and see me through my ups and downs -- merged my two lives in one moment. It made this year feel more real; no longer a “temporary tangent” to the life I lead back home. The beauty of SYA is that you not only gain cultural and linguistic fluency; you also acquire an additional family, a curious mind, and one more home.
- Campus Reporters
- SYA Spain