Studying abroad has been the single most life changing experience. Being here has completely changed my view of the world. It has changed the way I view myself and my peers. It has completely rearranged and changed the way I plan to live my life, where I want to work, how I want to live, the people I will be friends with, the husband I will marry. In some strange and indescribable way being here has opened up windows I never new existed, pushed boundaries I didn’t know were there, and positively influenced me in ways I was ignorant of. And I am not afraid to say I am so proud of myself.
From the beginning I had my doubts. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to escape from American friends, I would always be labeled a tourist, I would never understand the culture. But slowly and surely I have adapted to the ways of life here. I understand how to lock my door at the top and bottom. I know that if I wait on the red metro line till Espanya it’s faster than if I take Catalunya. I know that if you venture deeper into the market the fruit is cheaper than in the front. I eat lunch at three and dinner at ten. I’ve witnessed how a city functions with two official languages and the pride of the Catalan people. I know how the European Union functions and how it became what it is today. I’ve felt the feeling of total accomplishment when I held a conversation for over two hours with a single other person. I know that in winter time people eat chestnuts and sweet potatoes off the streets and that hunting for mushrooms in the mountains is a common past time. And all these things, these random little things start to accumulate in your mind. They add up and pretty soon you feel like you’ve know these people for a long time and have a hard time imagining life any other way. And I’ve started to imagine myself living here. I’ve thought about job opportunities here and what neighborhood I would chose to live in. At what point my mind made this transition I am unsure but it’s obvious to me now. Before, I thought I probably wanted to work in a Spanish speaking country after I graduated and now I am sure that this is what I want.