I’ve been home for almost two weeks now and it’s still hard to believe that my study abroad experience has concluded. It was very hard saying goodbye to my friends and host family; many tears were shed, but I was also happy to see everyone from home. It is certainly an adjustment to be back in the United States and I know it will take some time feeling comfortable here. The fact that it was so difficult leaving really goes to show what a great experience I have had during this past year. I can honestly say that I’ve changed so much as a person and I really got a lot out of this experience. It’s hard to believe that a year ago, I was contemplating whether I’d actually be able to be away from home for an entire year. If I had had the opportunity a year ago, I probably would have only chosen to go abroad for a semester. However, I now understand why most study abroad programs at Holy Cross are a full year. After my time here, I feel like even that wasn’t enough time and I could see myself spending coming back to Spain.
The experience certainly had its high and low points, but overall it was an amazing year. The challenges that I’ve had have really allowed me to grow and push myself in new ways. For example, the classes there really made me appreciate my Holy Cross education because even though I took them seriously and put in the work that I needed to, the structure of the university classes is very different. Not only was the structure and organization of the classes different but also the attitudes of the students came as a shock to me. In my opinion, I felt like there were a number of students did who not their classes very seriously and were not motivated to get the best grade they could; rather, many people are more than happy with a passing grade. This really made me value the education I receive at Holy Cross and has made me aware of some of the differences in the culture and academic institutions.
To anyone who will be going abroad in the future, I cannot stress the importance of trying new things and not being afraid to challenge yourself. Meet new people, share your experiences, and do everything you can to immerse yourself in the culture around you. It will be difficult and have its set of challenges, but it’s definitely worth it. The most important thing is to enjoy every moment of it! Everyone gets something different out of a year abroad and it is dependent on how willing you are to open yourself up to others. While this was difficult for me, challenging myself has allowed me to learn a lot about myself, has given me more of a global perspective, and has allowed me to have the best year of my life in León, Spain. I really improved my Spanish, learned a lot about Spanish culture, learned to travel on my own, and made lasting friendships there.
While it was hard saying goodbye, it made it a little easier knowing that it was more of a “hasta luego”, because I will definitely be returning to Spain in the future and seeing my friends soon. In fact, my two best friends from León will be visiting the US in September and I couldn’t be happier!
Finally, a big thanks to everyone who has been reading my blog and living vicariously through my adventures! I am glad that I was able to share my experiences with all of you!