Welcome back everyone!
It’s now been just over a week since I’ve returned to the States from my four months abroad, and it’s definitely been a crazy transition back to normal life. I’ve been going back and forth the past few weeks between being excited to come home, and not wanting to leave the best and craziest four months of my life. I’m finally beginning to adjust to the time difference, the food changes, and the much slower lifestyle I have here, and it’s been nice to settle in a bit more over the holidays. That being said, I would give anything to go back to Spain and keep living the abroad lifestyle I’d grown to love.
Along with this public blog, I’ve been keeping a personal travel journal throughout the semester to remember my weeks and my trips myself, and to go deeper into how this whole experience has affected me. I hadn’t read back any of my journal entries until last night, and reading through the entire semester at once was definitely enough to make me miss all of the early flights, travel mishaps, and times spent with friends in places I’d never thought I would visit. I want to share a few of my favorite thoughts and memories from this journal:
“When we arrived last Monday I was a little overwhelmed and didn’t quite know what to think of my new home, but now that I’m settled I can definitely see myself falling in love with this place.” – 9.1.2019, first week in Madrid
“I know the next four months will fly by, but I’m so excited for all of the adventures we’re going to take and all we’re going to learn.” – 9.1.2019, first week in Madrid
“To sum up our day trip in Salamanca, we spent the night.” – 9.8.2019, after being stranded in Salamanca, Spain
“Even though I barely have school here and being in Europe is so much fun, it was really nice to have a real beach vacation with nothing to do but relax in the sand. We also have such a good group of people, so I’m really excited to travel with everyone again this weekend.” – 9.15.2019, Palma de Mallorca, Spain
“Saturday was a BIG day. We ate breakfast in Nice, France. Then we got all dressed up and headed to country #2 of the day: Monaco where I gambled in the Casino de Monte Carlo. The day still gets crazier. Dinner? We wanted pasta. So we went to Italy.” – 9.21.2019, our day of 3 countries in the French Riviera
“The more I travel, the more Madrid feels like home, and the more I realize how lucky I am to feel that.” – 9.23.2019, returning to Madrid from Nice, France
“This was probably one of my favorite days abroad – the whole environment was so electric, I ran into so many friends, and the experience itself is something you just can’t miss out on.” – 9.28.2019, Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany
“This was one of those memories that you know is more special than words or photos can describe, even while living it. I hope for many more experiences, connections, and nights like this, for these are the ones that will change you, and that will last a lifetime.” – 10.6.2019, after a dance party in a mountain village of Morocco
“Standing on the Charles Bridge and looking around, it all fell into place. The beauty of the river, the architecture of the buildings, the colorful foliage, the bands playing music, and the children dancing – it hit me just how lucky I am to be here, and how peaceful and empowering this alone time has been.” – 10.10.2019, day 1 of my solo backpacking trip in Prague, Czechia
“You are so aware of how high up you are, standing out on tiny ledges and bridges. I could see the river stretch out in both directions, the top of the Gellert Hill I had just climbed in the distance, and the entire Pest side of the city.” – 10.12.2019, day 3 of my solo backpacking trip in Budapest, Hungary
“It truly hit me that night that I’m meant to be in Madrid right now, and this group of people is meant to be my family.” – 10.13.2019, returning to Madrid after a long weekend backpacking along
“Finally having a visitor and getting to show her what my life is like here was so special. And, after hearing reviews of Lisbon, I’m so glad we chose Porto!” – 10.26.2019, Porto, Portugal with my mom
“This was definitely my favorite part of the weekend – great views with great people.” – 11.1.2019, watching the sunset from the Carmel Bunkers in Barcelona, Spain (the highest point in the city)
“This was a much needed trip for lots of reasons: warmer weather, relaxing, change of scenery, and I’m really glad to have had that as the semester winds down. Being with 30 other people who were strangers 3 months ago and now are some of my closest friends, sitting on a beach in the south of freaking Spain, watching the sunset with absolutely zero responsibility, was so beautiful and magical.” – 11.9.2019, class trip to Málaga, Spain (in Andalucía)
“Standing on a bridge in Paris, France, watching the Eiffel Tower light up at night is something so unbelievably special, I still can’t believe I was there.” – 11.14.2019, Paris, France
“From the second I arrived in Amsterdam, I knew I was going to fall in love with the city.” – 11.15.2019, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
“I really liked spending genuine time with everyone and I’m getting very appreciative of all the connections I’ve made here.” – 11.30.2019, Rome, Italy
“It’s now December, which is so crazy to think about – I have less than 3 weeks left here.” – 12.1.2019, returning to Madrid from Rome, Italy
“I will definitely enjoy the break from flying every weekend, but I’ll always miss how spontaneous, careless, and excitingly special these past four months have been.” – 12.7.2019, returning from my final trip to Copenhagen, Denmark
While living through these four months, although I tried, it was hard to truly take in all that I was doing and realize how incredible it was. After a few weeks, the flights every weekend to new cities and new countries became routine, and it was harder to value living in Europe as much as I would’ve liked. Now, looking back on it all, it’s hitting me just how crazy these past four months have been, and how lucky I am to have experienced all that I did.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say that “abroad changed me,” as many people do, though I definitely think it helped me grow as a person, and it taught me so much about life and how valuable its experiences are. I know see travel as a fairly easy way to learn and explore, rather than an expensive luxury, or a once-a-year thing. I now take fuller advantage of my free time and want to maximize the time that I do have while I’m young to do and learn as much as a can, whether that’s here in Boston or all around the world. Most importantly, I made lifelong friends who now seem more like family, and I already miss though we left just ten days ago.
It’s weird for me to be wrapping up abroad like this, because I can’t completely believe or admit that the whole thing is over, but somehow it’s not August anymore, and instead of telling everyone that I’m going abroad, I now have to say “I went abroad.” Even though I’m sad that it’s now all in the past, I wouldn’t have changed a thing about my four months, and I’m looking forward to everything that’s to come out of this semester and what I’ve learned.
I would highly recommend to anyone thinking about studying abroad to do it – like I said, I wouldn’t have changed a single thing about my time in Spain, and I can honestly say these have been the best four months of my life. I know this is not the end of my travels, I have so much more I want to see in the world! But, for now I need to be in Boston for a bit, and as much as I miss Madrid, Boston will always be “home” for me.
Thank you all for following along with me these past four months, it has been such a pleasure sharing these photos, stories, and experiences with you! I will continue posting as I travel more, along with some tips and tricks I learned while traveling through Europe. For some highlights of the semester, I’ve posted my final abroad video below, I hope you enjoy 🙂