They say studying abroad will be one of the most amazing experiences of your life, and that could not be more accurate. It will leave you with the most remarkable memories and treasurable moments.
When you go from hopping on a plane every Thursday to visiting a new country every other weekend, there is bound to be some disappointment when returning home from being abroad.
I recently returned from a semester abroad in very sunny Seville, Spain.
I had the wonderful opportunity to soak up the sun, eat mediterranean cuisine, visit five separate countries (including a trip to Morocco, Africa), sip on sangria and even begin to learn a new language.
It wasn’t until I was sitting alone in my residencia, bags packed, listening to Enrique Iglesias, that I began to realize how much of an impact those quick four months had on me.
Leaving on that chilly December morning to catch a bus to the airport left me feeling like I had just gone through one of the worst break-ups of my life. And, in a way, I had.
I was breaking up with the cafe con leche, the irresistible Andalucian accent, the handsome men, and the beautiful European streets.
It is not that I wasn’t excited to see my family, my friends, or my hometown.
It was more of the fact that I was leaving my Spanish family, my abroad friends and the city I was quickly able to call home.
Seville is a city full of rich history and some absolutely beautiful architecture and streets filled with cafes and vendors. It is beautiful in September and October and November.
But, the most beautiful month that I was able to witness was December.
Being a very Catholic country, Christmas is widely celebrated and the entire city is lit up with the most beautiful lights and decorations.
I was only in Spain for part of the month, as the semester ended about midway through, but I spent as much time walking through the city as possible.
I filled my days with breathing in the roasting chestnuts on every corner, and admiring the nativity scenes being built in every nook of the city.
I spent evenings watching the sun set over the Rio Guadalquivir, turning the sky all sorts of beautiful colors.
Now I am back in Keene, New Hampshire, walking up and down Main Street, Appian Way, and Winchester Street, searching for something that makes me feel the way I felt when walking or biking down Avenida de la Constitución every day.
I spent weeks wallowing in self pity when I returned, looking at photos from the glory days and found myself green with envy of those abroad this semester.
It took me too long to realize that, while I may not be there now, I was able to have an incredible four months in a beautiful country, doing amazing things and meeting some of the most genuine people I have ever met. I need to treasure those moments, and not discount the moments I am having while back in the US.
I have tried my hardest to not separate my two lives – my abroad life and my home life- because, when it comes down to it, they’re both pretty amazing.
Mary Curtin can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org