Oh what a semester! I am very proud and happy with everything that’s happened over the past five months: the travels, the language studies, the relationships created … it’s been a truly rewarding and exhilarating experience of self-discovery, education enhancement, and understanding.
One of the scariest things I’ve experienced in my life was stepping off the bus in Valladolid to be picked up by our new host families. I was absolutely petrified. But that step led me into the arms of a host mom who I couldn’t be more thankful for and an experience I will treasure forever. Everyone who’s been on study abroad trips usually says the same thing, but until you live it for yourself I think it’s impossible to understand how your life is altered after learning to adapt and live in a new environment.
The hardest part come Saturday morning will be parting with the people I’ve spent a lot of time with while here. One of the best ways to learn a language is to connect with the people of the community, and for this I’ve made a good amount of close friends over the past semester. Between saying goodbye to my host mom, the professors, and my new friends it will be a little triste. A friend once told me how he chooses not to miss people; that to miss someone is a sad, depressing action. When we think of people not with us in our present moment, we shouldn’t be sad about that! Instead, he explained to me we should celebrate the relationship we have with the person. I believe this is true, so I also opted not to ‘miss’ people, but celebrate the times we spend together. I also believe the people that mean the most to you in your life you will see again.
Leaving Saturday, I have no doubt in my mind that I will return to Spain whether for work, vacation or long term. I think this makes it easier to leave. I felt the same when I left the U.S. to come here; I was confident I was going to return to the U.S. (I mean, I live there) so I didn’t feel I needed to be sad about embarking on an adventure. This time, I am stepping on the plane to start life as a graduate; independent, educated and traveled. It’s the next step in life, and I am fortunate enough to take it with the experiences I’ve had here over the last five months.
So it’s not an adios Spain, but only a hasta luego.
Courtney Cerniglia is a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point majoring in business administration and Spanish.