Today’s date, January 20th, will always hold a special significance for me. For most of you (in America), today’s date might mean that, every 4 years, it is Inauguration Day (or Martin Luther King Jr, Day depending upon where today’s date falls). Or perhaps it’s your birthday or wedding anniversary. While all of those things are great, that’s not what makes today’s date so special and meaningful for me. Today marks the day that I left for my study abroad semester in Spain during the spring of my junior year in 2010. It also marks the day, 12 years in the making, I first visited New York City! Both destinations were goals I had hoped to check off on my bucket list for some time. I did it. When someone asks me about whether or not I have been to either place, I can confirm that yes, I WAS there.
The title of this blog post is actually a translated lyric of a song in Spanish I had listened to this morning. “Confia en tus alas y vuela y vuela…” is how it goes in the original Spanish. I felt that it was the appropriate title for this post. Yes, I did board a jet plane and take off on my new adventure that day. However, I did fly, in another sense of the word. As excited as I was to go study abroad, I was equally scared and nervous. There was no one beside me that I knew on either trip. No fellow classmate, friend or family member by my side. I was the only one representing my school in that city and at that university. The other JU study abroad students I knew all went to Barcelona. It didn’t fully sink in for me (the distance and how lonely I might feel that semester) until about two weeks prior.
I did hit some rough turbulence in the days that followed. But, you know what? I did more than just fly that spring. I soared. With God by my side, my friend and family in my heart and the ever growing desire to become fluent in Spanish on my mind, I did it. And I would do it all over again, the exact same way, given the chance, in a heartbeat. (Except I would petition that my trips to Toledo and Barcelona would work out when I have said re-do, hehe).
Before I gush any more over my trip (which I know I already have done so many times in the past–modestly, of course, ahem-), let me just say this: I believe the reason why trips, achievements and milestones mean so much to us is because we know that in those times, we grew. And we became a little more of the person we are meant to be. Maybe you didn’t grow that much or as much as you would have liked, but nonetheless, you changed. This is why this trip and the people I met there mean so much to me. Why I long to return to that wonderful country. It was like going away to college all over again. I had a fresh start, another shot at redefining myself. Except, only this time I could do it in two languages. It’s not everyday that you get that opportunity.
I hope as you read this (and the following note), a special date comes to your mind. May you always find some way to honor that day and be true to yourself. Take a step out of that nest, spread your wings and fly. You might be surprised where the wind will take you. 🙂
For now, I will leave you with a photo of some gorgeous orange trees near the Reales Alcazares de Sevilla and the first email I sent home after 40+ hours of zero communication with my family and lots of obstacles in between. Disfruta y adiós!
Date: Friday, Jauary 22, 2010 7:16AM (13:16 CET)
Subject: I’m alive and enjoying Sevilla!
Hola! This is the first time I have gotten on the internet here. There was no Wifi at all in the Madrid airport so I wasn´t able to email or do anything. But the flight was good...we were served dinner and breakfast –which I had around 2am! I was able to sleep a few hours but being stuck in
the middle seat in my row it was hard. The metro wasn´t bad, it was just hard to get around with all my bags and my huge suitcase! I was told that I am very smart for only bringing one suitcase though! The train ride was very comfortable and the scenery was gorgeous!! I slept a lot on there but I am still tired. The time change is definitely something to get used to. My new mother, Manoli, is wonderful. She is very caring and is trying to
figure out what I like and what I don´t. I told her about how I hate tomatoes and onions right away...but I may try the tomates here cause they taste sweet. Who knows... Sevilla is gorgeous. I couldn´t have picked a better city to live in. Everything is very old looking but modern. I´d have to show you pictures to explain it. And these beautiful orange trees line the street! You can´t eat those oranges cause they are bitter. However, everything else is wonderful. Oh, and the after-Christmas sales are still going on so I will be able to buy more things than I thought. I have already done some window shopping. :) Well, the other girl in the program, Ashley--who goes to Univ. of Florida!-- and I are going to buy phones right now. We just stopped off at this other language school to use the internet after our orientation (which was in a cafe). I love and miss you all, but Spain is really awesome! I am so glad I´m here and looking forward to classes and more. I´ll write you some time this weekend and give you my new phone number. Love, Sarah