This is it. I am sitting in the airport waiting for my flight to take off back to the United States. This journey may be over, but the memories I made will stay with me forever. This last week in Alicante was so surreal, and each day as I walked through this beautiful city I couldn’t help but think it was the last time I would see the Castillo and walk on the port. The last time I would have gelato at my favorite little shop, and the last time I will see some of the people who went from strangers to close friends in just four months. The people I have seen everyday for 16 weeks will no longer be everyday faces. Even saying goodbye to my teachers and program directors was sad because with a small program like CIEE, you come to know them all so well. I have met many amazing people.
This last week, I really realized how incredible this trip has been and how much I have grown as an individual. I consider myself someone who doesn’t always like changes. So coming here was a big step for me and I was able to open up and let myself realize that it is okay to be spontaneous and let loose sometimes. That things will change, and many times they will change for the better. Change can push you outside of your comfort zone, but I am glad this trip did that. I have realized how much I love traveling and seeing the world. I have seen the most breath taking sights and learned about their fascinating history. I was able to travel a lot in my time here in Spain, but I wish I could have done more. Traveling makes you realize how many amazing places there are in this world. And the sad thing is, you can visit a thousand places in this world, and there will still be thousands that you won’t see. This world is huge with so much to offer and yet most of us won’t get the chance to see it. I have learned so much about myself through this journey and I truly feel as though I have gained a new perspective on life. Yes, I traveled to many places and have taken hundreds of pictures, but in reality, sometimes the moment is better seen through your eyes and not the lens of a camera. Sometimes all I needed to do was pause, take a few deep breaths, and soak in the beauty of the moment. Assimilating myself into a new language and culture was one of the best things that could have happened to me. And I am immensely grateful that I was able to take this opportunity and turn it into a life changing experience. Not only did I come to Spain 4,000 miles from home by myself, but I have also conquered a new language. And this last week I realized that when I first got here I was a tourist who didn’t know my way around, couldn’t communicate well with the people, and was learning a whole new culture. But now, I am no longer a tourist. I know my way around and the short cuts of the city. Now I am the one who can give directions and communicate with anyone on the street. I have adapted to this whole new culture and way of life. Walking around the city I really felt like one of the locals.
It is going to be weird integrating back into my life at home. Yes, I am very excited to go back home, but Alicante has become my home and my every day life. And while I have seen many places throughout Spain, Alicante was my home and on long trips I found myself yearning to be back there. I am going to miss winding through its busy streets with the sun shining down on me. Alicante has a part of my heart that will stay here until I am back again! Oh yes... I will be back!
Nothing is as beautiful as my second home, Alicante