This post is by Elif Anda, Lehigh University. She is a Spring2014 student participating in the CIEE Advanced Liberal Arts Program
I said I’d be different. I said I wouldn’t be one of those study abroad kids that stopped doing it halfway through. I said it would be such a great memory to look back on and read when I’m at home and crying on the couch about how much I miss Spain.
But I’m a failure at blogging. It happens to the best of us, what can I say!? I got wrapped up in living life (aka taking finals in Spanish) but here we are. It’s Wednesday, June 18th, and I leave in 5 days. So I’m going to finish strong with a blog post.
I can’t begin to explain to you all what this experience has been like. It has been the longest time I’ve ever been away from home (it’ll be 5 months and 10 days, to be exact) and the longest time I’ve ever been away from la familia and los amigos. If you read back on my posts, I was miserable when I first arrived. I’m talking about “seriously trying to find a way to get back to Lehigh and register for classes even though I missed the first two weeks of school” kind of miserable. I was counting down the days until I left, and couldn’t wait for the 20-something weeks to be up.
Now, I avoid every calendar I see. I don’t want to know the date. I don’t want to sleep, because it feels like a waste of time. We always had limited time in this beautiful city, but now it feels so real. Our friends have slowly been leaving, one by one, and it’s starting to sink in — our incredible semester abroad is coming to an end. I know thousands of people study abroad every year, and I’m sure each person feels like their experience was the best and that nothing could ever top it, but I was truly blessed while in Spain. I was so lucky to have found an incredible group of friends (hi guys), to have had an amazing roommate (hi Sammy), to have lived with some awesome Spaniards (hi Isa, hi Elena, hi boys upstairs), and to have been loved by a wonderful Sevillan boy (hi Caye).
Classes were a wonderful experience as well. I took 4 classes at a real, live, Spanish university with real, live Spanish students and managed to pass. In one class, Caye and I got the highest grades (HIGH FIVE). It was an awesome way of proving to myself that those 12 years of taking Spanish classes and conjugating verbs really did pay off. For anyone looking to further their language skills, I highly recommend staying in a different country for an extended period of time. Classes helped with the grammar and the learning the basics, but there’s no experience like using the language to LIVE in a foreign country. Spain has done wonders for my Spanish, and for my confidence in using my language skills.
Also, for anyone considering studying abroad, CIEE is a great program. I was frustrated at first with a couple of aspects of the orientation, but I think it was because I was homesick. The program directors have been nothing short of amazing (shout outs to Juli and Cristina!) and the CIEE staff/orientation leaders/equipo Ñ/people we met at Sierra Hueznar have become very close friends. They’ve invited us into their homes and lives, and have been super patient with our Spanish (or in my case, sometimes accidental Spanglish) and for that I am forever grateful. They know that they now have a home in New Jersey that they are more than welcome to visit.
I could go on and on. But I won’t. I think I’ll leave it at this:
I have 5 days left in one of the most magical cities in the world. I’ll be soaking in every bit of Sevilla that I can get until the very last minute, and then on Monday I’ll be flying over to Istanbul with Emir and my Dad for a week of family fun. Then, on July 2nd, my journey will end in New Jersey, back where I started 6 months earlier. I’ll come home as a changed person. My views, my style, and my life have all been changed by my study abroad. I’ll take life a little slower the way the Europeans have taught me, and “work to live, rather than live to work” as they always say. I’ll wear sweatpants in public less, and dress up more to feel awesome even just for class at Lehigh (Kels I’m dragging you into this with me). I’ll show the affection to my friends that I’m feeling. “Dos besos” is an awesome thing that should be a thing everywhere. I’m getting rid of the cold handshake that Americans use to keep their “personal space bubble” from bursting. Give me a kiss on both cheeks and we’re good.
Point is, I’ll go home and life will go back to the way it was. I’ll finally be able to give my Mom and Dad the huge hugs that I can’t give them through FaceTime. I’ll be able to force Emir to go for the haircut that everyone else won’t take him to get. I’ll be able to stop using Viber to talk to my closest friends, and iMessage them instead (hahahaha just kidding, I’ll be hopping in the car to go see them). But Sevilla will always be a part of me. And I know I’ll be back. i say that about everywhere that I am fortunate enough to see, but this is for real. I’ll be back in Sevilla one day for sure.
Until then, I’ll enjoy my last 5 days in this wonderful little Andalusian city, try not to dry up my tear ducts from crying too much, and live life to the fullest.
Sevilla no me ha dejado.