Sunday, April 3, 2011

Choose Your Own Adventure

So I've pretty much sucked at blogging this past month. I'd like to be better about at least jotting things down as they happen, because I know I'm going to forget things in a year, two years, ten years. But fact is when the coolest stuff is happening you're living it, not writing about it. And I refuse to be one of those douchebag writers with a fifteen dollar Moleskin notebook in my pocket all the time, I'm sorry.

There's just about two months left in my time abroad, and I'm constantly vacillating between wanting it to slow down and speed up. On the one hand, I'd happily live in Europe and see the world one 8 euro Ryanair flight at a time. (Although if and when I'm ever making real money I will never fly Ryanair again. That shitshow is basically the Fung Wah bus of the skies.) On the other, I miss home. I miss my boyfriend, and my family, and my friends from home and from school. I feel like the world's biggest whiner--partying until 5 a.m., swimming in the Mediterranean...and here I am talking about how homesick I am?

But this was what I wanted all along, I think. To feel homesick, and even at times a little lost. Because every time that I beat down a purse snatcher on a bike--yeah that happened, long story--or share a joke with somebody from Morocco, or Mali, or Cuba, or stand in front of Las Meninas or inside the Alhambra, I am constantly bowled over that this is actually my life. My life is drinking sangria with the Sierra Nevada on my right and the Mediterranean at my left. My life is having breakfast with my boyfriend on the terrace of our rental apartment and looking at the Alhambra. It's crazy, and it used to all be out of my comfort zone, and it's all pretty amazing.

Whenever we're traveling as a group, everyone is constantly taking pictures of groups of people, and the sights, obviously. But once in awhile, somebody hands their camera to a friend and, almost a little sheepishly, asks if the friend will take a picture of just him or her--standing in front of whatever important, beautiful or famous thing we happen to be visiting. Because even though we share so much of this trip, we're all writing our own version of the story. We all want a little piece that says "I was here."

The thing about going abroad as a student is that even though you're in a large group that gets close very quickly, you're also you. You're a college student who's choosing to ditch the library and the dining hall and the warm Keystone for something totally new and unknown. You've got the balls to do that--and while it might not feel like a lot sometimes, it sets you apart a little. I think it's something very personal, choosing to push yourself like this. Everybody is looking for something slightly different, but we all wanted this challenge. We're looking to learn, and make friends, and travel, but for me at least there's also something bigger, something more inward. I don't know what to call it, really, but I feel it sometimes when I fall into bed at the end of the day just totally exhausted from speaking, reading and writing Spanish all day, not to mention absorbing the culture shock (which gets better but it doesn't go away). It's like going to bed after a serious workout, with all your muscles aching. They hurt because you broke them down and now they're slowly rebuilding themselves into something stronger.


  1. Glad to have you back! Even though we talk, I missed your blog. I love the exercise metaphor. Talk to you soon.

  2. my biggest regret is not studying abroad. i wish i was out there this semester with you. NH misses you girl.

    <3 kjoh