I’m not going to say adiós (goodbye) to Spain– I will instead say hasta luego (see you later)!
My time here in Spain is almost over, just hours remain. I didn’t want to start writing this blog post because that would mean that I’m actually leaving tomorrow and I don’t want to accept that fact. Saying goodbye to Pili, Luis, Raquel, and Nacho tomorrow will be one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in a long time (Chemistry 345 included)! Pili and Luis have treated me like their own daughter and I have truly been a part of their family for these past two months.
This last week of classes has been the end of many things – summer school, experiencing Spain, and enjoying my fellow classmates, friends, professors, and my familia española each day. However, this week has also been full of new beginnings – leaving Spain to travel in Europe for two weeks with Badger Shelby (more blog posts to come!), celebrating my 20th birthday, and gaining a new perspective about myself and about life. I am more independent and self-assured (I can also follow directions, and read maps and public transportation schedules better). I am more outgoing when meeting new people and facing new situations. I feel very confident in my Spanish-communication skills (I like to think that I’m fluent, except for occasional issues with vocabulary), and in my ability and desire to use Spanish in my future career as a pharmacist. Though if I think back to how I felt just before I left Wisconsin for Spain, I feel very similar; I am nervous about leaving my family and friends behind, but also excited for what is to come.
This week brought Session II to a close, ending with final exams. My paper and presentation on celiac disease was the final assignment in my Spanish for Health Professions class, so I had to just concentrate on the final for my other class: Spain: Relations with Latin America.
I will remember this last week, and my summer in Spain with wonder and joy:
- Monday I enjoyed paella and arroz con leche, my two new favorite foods (I will miss Pili’s home cooking!).
- Tuesday was the last day of learning new material and ended with a trip to the NavalMuseum in Madrid with my Spain/Latin America class.
- Wednesday, I reviewed for finals and attended the Goodbye Picnic with the Instituto Franklin at the Universidad de Alcalá.
- Thursday was final exams and saying one last goodbye to my professors, fellow students, and my amazing program director, Cristina Blanco (we both tried so hard not to cry)!
- I spent Friday packing, buying souvenirs and enjoying a BBQ with my family. My mom surprised me with a delicious chocolate cake to celebrate my birthday a few days early. After, I listened to different Disney and Spanish songs with Raquel and Ivan (trying to sing Under the Sea in Spanish is a lot harder than you may think!).
- Saturday, I woke up early, ate my last meal in Spain and said a teary farewell at the airport in Madrid.
What I will miss about Spain:
1. Mi familia española. Need I say more?
2. My mom’s amazing home-cooked meals (paella, arroz con leche, filetes de huerto which are fried slices of zucchini with a yummy tomato vegetable salsa).
3. Playing ping-pong with Nacho, his frequent hugs, and hearing him say “Bookie Badger”.
5. Watching a movie every night with my dad, Luis.
6. Hearing Luis call me “Katie Kuecker”, in his particular way (difficult for Spaniards or Americans to pronounce ‘Kee-ker’ correctly).
7. Watching our cat, Attila, climb the trellis above our patio. He’s like Spiderman!
8. Taking the bus every day to class and talking to my favorite bus driver.
9. Eating yummy bread at every meal.
10. All of the amazing CIEE staff: Cristina, Eero, and Fausto, and Instituto Franklin Professor Carlos, and my tutor-mentor Doctor Nazareno at the Hospital Príncipe de Asturias.
11. Speaking, living, eating, breathing, and dreaming Spanish every day!
Things I’m excited for after returning home to Madison:
1. Good ol’ Wisconsin milk and cheese!
2. Having carpet on the floor.
3. Starting pharmacy school.
4. Eating a Greenbush donut, Ian’s Pizza, Culver’s, and chicken tikka masala from my favorite Indian restaurant.
5. Air conditioning.
Summer study abroad has been full of new experiences for me. While it had a definite beginning when I stepped on the plane May 30th, it does not have a finite end. It’s a learning experience that has changed me and which will continue to impact my life and outlook.
Quiero agradecerles al programa de UW-Madison IAP, incluyendo Angela, Dan, y Erin, mi familia, mis amigos, mis profes, y Cristina por todo lo que han hecho por mí, y el programa de becas de Gilman. Verdaderamente mi experiencia en España ha cambiado mi vida y siempre recordaré a las personas quienes yo he conocido.
I want to thank the UW-Madison IAP program, including Angela, Dan and Erin, my family, friends, professors, and Cristina for everything they have done for me, and also the Gilman Scholarship program. Truly, my experience in Spain has changed my life and I will always remember the people who helped make this happen.