Growing up in good ole Oklahoma, I never imagined that in college I would leave the country for three months to study abroad in Seville, Spain, aka about 5,000 miles away from my home. I have always been a homebody; even moving two hours away from my hometown to go to college was a scary idea for me. I was always in love with the idea of exploring, but I was terrified of leaving my family behind. Finally, my junior year of college I decided that I was going to study abroad for a semester.
This decision was not an easy one for me. I knew it would be an incredible opportunity to explore the world and specifically work on my Spanish language skills for my Spanish minor. On the other hand, the thought of missing out on those little moments with my family and literally being so far away from them was absolutely terrifying. I finally decided that I needed to take advantage of this opportunity not just to see the world, but to grow up and learn how to be more independent.
There have been good days and there have been bad days. There were days when I just stood in awe in front of historical monuments in disbelief that traveling the world was really my life at the moment. Then there have been days where I call my mom crying because I miss her so much.
As my three months of study abroad in my home away from home, Seville, comes to an end, I cannot help but think about all of the incredible experiences I have had here. I went from counting down the days until I went back to America to now crying because I cannot imagine the thought of leaving and not knowing when I will be back again. This experience has been one of the best experiences of my whole life. If I was not graduating next year, I would study abroad again in a heartbeat.
Making the choice to study abroad has been one of the best decisions of my life. I can tell how much I have grown as a person during this period of my life. I can say that I have seen in person the great works of Antoni Gaudí at the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. I can say that I have held a conversation for an hour in Spanish with my host dad about the current situation in Catalonia. I can that I have spent a weekend in Portugal. I can say that I have seen the beautiful Mosque-Cathedral in Córdoba. I can say that I have bar hopped in Granada. I can say that I got up close and personal with monkeys in Gibraltar. I can say that I experienced Carnaval de Cádiz in Cádiz. I can say that I stepped back in time when I wandered the streets of Toledo. I can say that I explored the streets of the capital of Spain, Madrid. I can say that I have seen the Eiffel Tower and the Mona Lisa with my own two eyes. I can say that I spent the day at Disneyland in Paris. I can say that I watched the changing of the Guard in London. I have realized the importance of educating myself on the history of cities, historical monuments and the culture of all the people I have met. I have learned that there is so much more to this world than the little bubble I tend to stay in at home in Oklahoma.
When people tell you that you will grow as an individual when you travel alone, they are not lying. I have seen myself transform over the course of the last three months. I have learned how to go with the flow. I have learned to enjoy spontaneous moments. I have realized that not every single second of the day has to be planned out. I appreciate culture more. I am more aware of what is going on in Europe. I understand the importance of learning another language. I have learned how to be more independent. I am not scared to go get lost in the streets of a foreign country by myself. I crave adventures. I want to travel the world and never stop discovering new things.
To all of the men and women out there who have the slightest desire to travel the world, but are scared to, here is my advice to you: go for it. You know about the cliché phrase: you only live once? That could not be truer. Take that leap of faith and go explore. Step out of your comfort zone. Go visit those unknown places. Experience new cultures. I promise you that in the end, you will grow more as a person than you ever would have expected.
Spain, this is not a goodbye, but it is a see you later. Thank you for everything.