Studied abroad in 2013
Universidad de Cantabria, Santander, Spain
The fact that I was going to live and study in Spain didn’t become a reality for me until I had already been on the plane for about four hours. I had never left the country before, and I had no idea what to expect.
There were days at the beginning of my trip when I would walk around the beaches of Santander alone and almost in tears. It wasn’t because I was sad or homesick, it was because I was so unbelievably happy to be experiencing a new world. I wanted to see every corner of Spain. I like to think I came close. Between group excursions, and personal travels, I visited 8 of the 17 autonomous communities (their version of states) of Spain. Every one was more breathtaking than the last.
Before I left, one of my mother’s best friends warned me, “Be careful, because once you leave the country, you’ll never want to stop traveling. You’ll want to see everything, and eat everything and speak every language. You’ll have the traveling bug.”
My mom’s friend was right. Not only did I learn a language, meet a wonderful woman who was my assigned “mama Española,” and not to mention one of my favorite people on the planet, I learned I am an independent and completely capable person. I learned to use public transportation in four cities, and navigated through every town with a paper map. Remember those?
Unfortunately, coming home to the United States didn’t become a reality for me until I had already gotten onto my returning flight. If I had realized I was really leaving earlier, I think I’d still be on the beach in Santander. Although I’m back here in Michigan, I think there will always be a part of me sitting on the rocks watching the tide come in and the sun go down at “La Playa Sardinero.”