I think I can speak for almost all college students when I say that the idea of summer, the ending being oh-so-near, is often one of the best parts of Spring semester. However, being abroad has unsurprisingly made summer turn into a looming, terrifying punctuation symbol to one of the best experiences of my life. I currently only have three true school days left to my far too short semester here in Spain. While I am looking forward to eventually transitioning back into the comfortable pace of my life in the U.S., with my cheese curds and waiters that always understand what I am ordering, being out of my comfort zone for so long has simultaneously made this life back home sound just a bit boring.
When I envision my life when I return after this semester, I often wonder how I may have changed in the eyes of those around me. While I don’t necessarily see the change in who I am sure to have become, my family and friends will no doubt see differences that have happened so subtly that I won’t notice. This idea is especially prominent when I consider my long-distance relationships — and not just the obvious long-distance relationship I maintain with my boyfriend back home. I have missed concerts (thanks Mike), relationship milestones (congratulations Jaden and Katie, Haley and Paul) of friends and family, and have missed out on a lot of family updates as well. Two of my grandparents lived in another state for four months, my other grandma had a serious hospital visit, and my family dog of fifteen years died. Transitioning to all of these new developments will undoubtedly be difficult as I step back into the reality of Wisconsin.
I am currently trying to deny the impending end of my program, and spent my second spring break in León, Spain with the high school exchange student I met over two and a half years ago. Spending time with Inés made me realize how much my Spanish has improved over the semester, since I all-too-vividly remember how I struggled to communicate with her and her parents when I visited in the March of 2017. While I still don’t consider myself fluent, I no longer feel the frustration of being unable to express simple ideas in my second language. I have also had the amazing fortune to see classic Semana Santa processions, drink Limonada, and continue to taste absurd foods that only the Mediterranean diet would deem edible (Pig snout and ears? Octopus? Morcilla?).
However, the end of the semester has not been all Sunsets-and-Sangria (although, admittedly, that too occasionally occurs). School has been picking up steadily throughout the semester, and I am suddenly faced with essays, presentations, and exams aplenty. Moreover, I am trying to get my summer travel plans in order before prices surge. I have family and friends who are making their way to Europe just for me, and while I am so undeniably sad to let the chapter of my life named “Study Abroad” draw to a close, I am also looking forward to where these next adventures lead me.