Major: Spanish and Tourism and Travel
Universidad de Cantabria, Spain, Summer II
Throughout my nine years studying Spanish, one goal stayed persistent with my desire to become fluent in the language: practicing it abroad through a program with my school. What is the point of learning if you can’t embrace the ability to communicate within another culture outside of your own? The decision was easy when it came time, and I selected a program through the Department of Spanish at Western Michigan that would best fit my needs in Santander, Spain. Although this program was not the peak of my interest in Spanish studies, the opportunity presented itself with many additional benefits such as travelling around Spain itself, as well as Europe. I couldn’t think of a single thing wrong with that.
I have only travelled across the pond once before with my high school. Every detail of the trip was planned for me, and we had chaperones facilitating our every move. I had no stress put upon me in a single moment during my time in Europe, and it made the trip carefree and enjoyable. Life is quite easy sometimes when you let others take the wheel! This is not the case this time. It is finally time to put on my big girl shoes and start discovering the world on my own. The process of booking flights, planning itineraries, and scheduling classes came easy. It felt as though I was beginning to plan the fantasy vacation of my dreams, and every detail made the concept that much more magical and alive in my mind. After this was done, all I had left to do was day dream my life away about my summer in Spain. As time approaches, the tight feelings of anxiety in my chest become stronger as I realize that I am leaving my friends and family for the longest period of time ever and our time together is dwindling. A mixture of excitement and worry mix into a concoction of pre-departure franticness.
As time to leave comes closer, I tend to think of Anthony Bourdain to lessen my stress. Years of watching his escapades across the world with my mom flood into my head at any sign of stress. My favorite (along with many other people, for a wonderful reason) quote from him reads, “If you’re twenty-two, physically fit, hungry to learn and be better, I urge you to travel- as far and as widely as possible. Sleep on floors if you have to. Find out how other people live and cook. Learn from them wherever you go.” This statement pumps through my veins at any signs of anxiety regarding travel. It inspires the darkest spots and encourages me to step out of my comfort zone and just go. It doesn’t matter where, as long as I go, I see, I try, I participate and I observe. The journey may be filled with bountiful joy and laughter, or it may be filled with stress and sorrow, but it is better for myself to know that I tried and persisted rather than enjoy my usual comfort. My mother made sure I knew Mr. Bourdain’s lessons and urged my every day to go out and explore, learn and nourish my soul in any corner of the world.
As time starts moving more rapidly, excitement runs through my fingertips and down to my toes. It is beginning to be easier to accept that whether the trip turns out badly or well, I went and did it. My positivity is already leading me to plan new trips across the world when I arrive back in the US. Is this the feeling of wanderlust that people seem to be oozing? I think I like it a lot. For now, I’ll enjoy the rest of my Michigan summer while it’s in full bloom and the fruit is ripe. ¡Nos vemos en España!