Life is Beautiful
Happy May! I can’t believe it’s already here, I will never get over how fast this semester has gone. I guess time flies when you’re having fun is the best way to describe it but it’s still hard for me to comprehend. In two weeks I will be taking my final exams and then heading back to Stevens Point and saying goodbye to Spain.
Although I don’t need to worry about finals just yet, tomorrow my two-credit big paper is due. It’s crazy to think that I am capable of writing a 10-page research essay entirely in Spanish. I guess this sort of proves to myself, and a lot of other people, that I am in fact at a very advanced level in Spanish. I feel that I was just learning basic verb tenses and vocabulary words in Spanish class, and now all of the sudden it has become the language I speak most throughout the day. I am capable of expressing my thoughts and complex ideas in this foreign language; well I guess now it’s not so foreign to me. I am incredibly proud of myself, and everyone else in the program, for accepting the challenge to learn a new language and then going as far to live in a country that only speaks that language. I am going to be a little sad when I go back to the United States and not constantly surrounded by the Spanish language.
Anyway, tomorrow I will turn in my final monograph paper that alone is worth two credits of my semester. We were able to write on just about any topic involving Spanish culture, history, literature, geography, or art. I choose to write about Francisco Franco, the dictator that ruled over Spanish from the mid 1930s until his death in 1975. I choose to write about this because many people outside of Spain have hardly ever heard about him or extensively studied him. I would bet that every high schooler or college student could explain who Hitler was, but I doubt even half of them could explain who Franco was. To me that’s just disappointing and I didn’t want to be just another student that didn’t know anything about him. Another reason I chose to write about him was because of the range of opinions of him here in Spain. Some Spaniards thought he was great, while others think he was the worst man alive. When I finished the rough draft of my paper I asked my host mom proof read my paper. When she read it I asked her what she thought of it and she said it was well written but she didn’t like it. She obviously was opposed to Franco and my views on him. However, I know other students have talked to their host parents and they said they liked Franco. Overall I think he did horrible things but I think it could have been much worse and in the end everything, basically, worked out for Spain; and I’m even more happy to be done with my paper.
This last weekend I went to Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands on a weekend holiday with several of my friends. It was one of the most surreal trips I’ve been on, I was in complete awe the entire time. We spend two nights in the mountains, in a hostel that was literally build into a cave on the side of a mountain. When we walked out of our room we looked out onto the biggest volcanic canyon on the island. We spent those several days just soaking up the sun and hiking around. The manager of the hostel even took us one night to a lookout point called “El Fin Del Mundo” aka, the end of the world. It was like something out of a picture in National Geographic, it was incredible. We could see for miles along the coast, ocean, and mountains. We could even see the next island, Tenerife, which is over 60Km away. Mountains goats ran wild along the next cliff and we called out to them only to hear are own echos ring back perfectly. I felt like I was in a secret corner of the Earth that only a small group of people have ever seen. I was completely filled with happiness and I felt that in that moment nothing was wrong with the world. I wanted everyone and anyone who was feeling sad and angry to just be there and see what I saw, there’s no way someone could have any negative energy or feelings while standing where I was and seeing what I saw. Life is beautiful and it’s sad that not everyone will have the opportunity to see that for themselves.
After our time in the mountain the manager of our hostel asked us if we wanted to spend a night at his beach hostel. We of course said yes and thus spent two days chilling on the beach and hanging in the city. We ran to the ocean like children, getting so excited even when the waves were tackling us and throwing us around like rag dolls. It didn’t matter what was happening because we were happy and everything seemed so right.
No matter how much I tell myself this is real life I still can’t believe it. I am so beyond blessed that I have been able to do everything that I have. This semester has taught me countless lessons, and of the most important ones I have come to face is the inevitability of death and fragility of life. From the experiences I’ve had to reading Spanish literature, that is a theme that has been reenforced many times in the last several months. That doesn’t mean that you are going to die tomorrow, but I think it’s good to realize that it is a possibility. When I was standing on the edge of a mountain cliff I was thinking about was thinking what would happen if I slipped and fell. Obviously this is a morbid thought and I was extremely careful, but what if it happened. I was just glad that my last moments would be filled with happiness. That’s all I can wish for myself and for everyone else. I guess my point is, enjoy life and don’t take anything for granted.
Alexia Szabo, a junior majoring in accounting, Spanish and international studies at UW-Stevens Point, is blogging about her study abroad experience in Spain.