As I enter my final month in Spain (on another note, what happened to the other three months?), I find myself reflecting on the study abroad experience. I take away this: utilize every opportunity. At first I attributed my exciting chances, be it a trip to Paris or Morocco, a Real Madrid game, a hike in the mountains or a performance of El Rey Leon, to being in a new place, but I recently conceded that a change in attitude was the defining factor.
Choosing to study abroad might be the most exciting and the scariest thing I, as a student, have thus far decided to do. After almost three months, I might add also one of the best things. I go to a private Christian college in the Illinois suburbs with 2400 undergraduate students. I chose a study abroad program in Madrid city center, attending classes at a public university because I sought a change, and as cliché as it sounds, I knew I would learn more about the world and about myself. Trite as it is, I was exactly correct.
First opportunity accepted: study in Madrid. Of course, in a new city, other CIEE students and I wished to explore. The first couple weeks, I used silly excuses such as “I’m tired” or “I should wait to see this.” Before long, I resolved to be more active in Madrid, and since then, options appear everywhere. I may never again live in Madrid, so I have to make this semester worthwhile. Writing this post having just returned from Brussels, I succeeded.
The question remains: What happens when I return to school? The truth is I’m not sure. However, I do know I will go back with a renewed sense of flexibility, adventure and global awareness. I won’t get ahead of myself; that’s still a month away. For now, I still look forward to a visit from my family, Paris again, London, Valencia, more time with my host family and more time to work on Spanish.