Spain and Other European Adventures: Fall 2016

Giving Thanks for: Tapas. Travel. Dancing. and Studies.

It is hard to believe I have been in Spain (and traveling around Europe) for the past 3 months and that I only have 1 month left in my program.  My time abroad has been so filled with fun and learning.  There of course have been moments of tension and transition but that is part of the process.  In the last few months I have travelled as much as I could.  I  flew into Paris from the US, and since then I have been to Switzerland, Africa and Spain, all places I had never been before.


Switzerland with my Grammy in front of the Chocolate, Cheese Train


Morocco (my first time in Africa)

Three months after my arrival, I am finally starting to feel like I am settling in.  So much has happened since I started my program that I do not know where to begin.  I figure the best way to go is to share how I have grown and how my time abroad has affected me.  I came into this experience pretty nervous, not knowing what to expect or how I would change.  My nerves have since subsided and I, now more than ever, want to travel the world.  There is so much to learn from different cultures.  My time abroad has shown me different ways of living and by extension showed me that I can live differently.  There are social structures and molds in place in any given cultural context, but I realize now I do not necessarily have to follow those guidelines religiously.  Something I appreciate about Spain is its flexibility.  I feel it allows for a more even balance between work and life.

On an average day: I wake up around 9/10am and go to the library to study before class.  After my first classes, I go home for lunch with the family, the primary meal of the day.  If I have time after lunch I take a nap, “echarme una siesta.”  Then I head to my next class, followed by the library to study a bit more.  Then I will sometimes go to tapas, a wonderful tradition that I will miss greatly when I get back to Seattle.  And finally on a week with a smaller work load I will go out dancing to a discoteca once or twice.


Wine tasting with my program in the hills of Granada


I really enjoy this way of life.  I do not necessary have to follow the social norms in the US of prioritizing work and productivity over everything. I am a lot less stressed and I feel like the velocity of my day is much slower here.  I do not feel as much pressure to get everything done at an increasingly fast pace.  In Seattle, I have felt that to be my best self I have to do as much as possible for as many people or groups as possible, but here my perspective is starting to shift. I am starting to discover a version of myself that isn’t consistently stressed and overwhelmed trying to do it all.  In Spain, I am a version of myself that is still learning a lot but is now intentionally making time to think about my future and to understand where I am meant to be in the world, literally and figuratively.  In my first three years in college I have done this to some extent but I have never prioritized it.  I realize now that isn’t doing anyone any good.  I hope I am able to keep this up when I come back to the states because I feel like I am a better version of myself.  There are still times of stress and difficulty, but at the pace I am going I feel I am better able to address the stress as it comes.

My goal for the next month is to really embrace my time here with a sense of gratitude.  This trip is such a gift and I intend to remind myself of that.  Since it is Thanksgiving, Día de Acción de Gracias, I want to end by sharing how grateful I am for the people in my life who have supported me and gotten me to this point.  I hope one day I am able to support someone in the way I have been supported.  I could not have gotten here, to this place in my life alone.  There is so much I have to be thankful for and in the face of hard times in the world I think it is important to find and name those things. I believe if we do this, we can use those gratitudes to inspire us to make positive change in the world.  I am grateful for my family, my friends and my education and that gratitude is what fuels my desire to change the way many people, most especially those with disabilities, are treated around the world.

Happy Thanksgiving and I hope you are able to take time today to find what you’re thankful for and use it to inspire you to create and contribute to a more just and compassionate world!