Pia L. is currently a junior at SYA Spain and a blogger for our Campus Reporter program. Pia comes to SYA from The Hotchkiss School (CT). Read more of her work throughout the year here.
Over the winter break, I traveled with my family to Austria and Italy. Those weeks were the first time I'd left Spain since arriving in September 2016, and even then, I'd only left Zaragoza a few times. That is to say, I hadn't really noticed quite how much Zaragoza really felt like home until I left it—excited of course to see my family, but feeling a little bit of sadness leaving our city. For me, that was definitely a milestone. We're more than halfway through, and I still have these realizations that we're actually here—high school juniors and seniors living in Spain for an entire year. I guess that never really gets old; back in September nine months seemed to me like an eternity, but now here we are, almost five months in and time is flying.
Showing Parents Our New Way of Life
Across the board, I think the break was much needed and welcomed eagerly by the students. Having parents arrive and see the school, walk our daily routes and sip cafés con leche at our regular cafes was beyond fun. I think I can speak for everyone when I say we were all a little bit excited to show off our Spanish skills to the friends, family and relatives that had traveled here—for us now, ordering something off a menu comes out naturally and easily, but it was secretly gratifying to see the approving faces of our American relatives who couldn't manage quite so easily.
Zaragoza Feels Like Home
Winter break also brought the end of exams, which was a big relief to all of us. Having just completed our first semester of school almost entirely in Spanish, the mood around school was tired, but triumphant. As I ate my last lunch at my host house, all I could think about was the fact that in a few hours I would be in Italy with my mom and sisters. I excitedly packed and hurried out the door. But, as I walked out the gate of my apartment complex and drove out of the city to the airport, I couldn't help but think, "Aw, I'm not going to be back for two whole weeks". It surprised me a little to realize how much I actually love living in Zaragoza, and how much it has started to feel like home. Of course I was overjoyed to be seeing my family for the first time in months, but I also felt as if I was leaving my other family behind.
My vacation could not have been better, though, and I absolutely loved spending time with my family again. I forgot how much fun I had when my sisters and I were all together, and I definitely had missed hugs from my mom and my dad's embarrassing dances. Leaving them was hard, and for a second I thought I might not be able to go back to Spain—that I just wanted to stay with my family. But the minute I arrived back home, I knew this was exactly where I wanted to be—here to finish the amazing and wonderful and exciting year that I had started. So, with the New Year comes a new half of our time here—congrats SYAers! Here's to four more months!