What a year.
Let me start out by saying just how grateful I am for everything that I have been able to experience this year. As I am looking back at 2016, I just find it incredible how I welcomed this year in Spain, celebrating it with my mom and sister as they were able to come visit me and see Madrid and now, I am ending it in Illinois with the rest of my family. It’s a very big deal to me, and every time I think about it I can’t help but feel all sorts of nostalgia, happiness, gratefulness, appreciation, and love. This year I was able to experience Spain and Europe more extensively and readjust back to life in America; I was able to learn from the good, and rise above the not so good moments. This year I…
Discovered Spain extensively
and I was able to see beautiful Spanish cities with the guidance of friends I made at school. They shared their time, food, and family homes with me as I traveled with them to their corner of the country. I learned how warm, friendly, and welcoming people are even if you’ve only known each other for a little while. Buena gente mis amigos, los echo de menos mucho.
Met amazing people
Just a few of my friends on a Friday afternoon after el Cole. They enriched my experience abroad to another level. It’s so beautiful to feel welcomed by a group of friends abroad. I’m very grateful for their friendship and all that they taught me.
Traveled on my own
and I learned how to rely on myself, my own means, and how to enjoy a new place with my own company without feeling self-conscious or weird. It’s so liberating.
Showed my mom and sister around a few of my favorite places
and I felt the most grateful I could have felt, to see at least half of my family enjoy a new place like Spain, and a place I had come to quickly feel at home and happy. It’s one of the most special moments I have experienced so far.
Saw a few places in Europe
Which helped me see just how beautiful the world is, how amazing nature and cultures are when they come together, and realizing that I am at my happiest when I am walking in a foreign city, with no plans other than to absorb and immerse myself in the moment.
Was referred to as Profe by an amazing group of students
and I learned how to make my job seem less like a job and feel more like a dedication to something of meaning. I was able to connect with my students from all sorts of ages; we had shared similarities, plans, laughs, and moments of learning (me as much as them). My students taught me that everyone can always learn from someone, no matter the age. I miss them.
After everything, and as I sit down and type this post, I am thinking of everything that happened this year. The good which is all of the above and more, as well as a few moments that were tough whether it was a conflict with someone, missing my family, or feeling lonely. I got through it in the end, I reminded myself of where I was, how lucky I was after everything that I was even in Spain, and that it was my choice to be there. I looked at the bright side, sipped a cafe con leche at a panaderia, and everything began to fall into perspective again. I was happy. I was so happy, and because of that experience I am happy now. I came back, rejoined my family in the states, drove a car for the first time in a year, and I got a job thanks to my experience abroad, and I work with an amazing and dedicated team of fellow Latinos trying to empower others to do their best.
The travelling you can do, extensive or short, but meaningful because you learned something, will always stick with you. I am so grateful I had a year full of experiences, photos, and stories. I am also happy I finally gathered courage to start a blog on a topic that I have been passionate about for a long time, but never really realized until I was in situations that challenged me to rethink what I want, and accept the challenge to make it real. I realized that if there was anyone I could help by sharing my experiences abroad whether it be studying abroad, teaching abroad, or travel in general, then I will have done my job. I don’t consider myself an expert, but I think that if more of us Latinos shared our experiences abroad, it would create a circle of empowerment and learning. Sharing information that we can relate to for important milestones that our parents may or may not have had. That’s all the satisfaction I need, and I want to dedicate the most of my time doing that with my fellow Latinos. Tenemos todo el mundo que ver y mucho que aprender!
So, if you haven’t caught on yet, I am very grateful for the amazing things this year has brought me for my growth and life. Experience inspires new action, and I have a feeling 2017 will be full of that.
2016 was a year for the books, and I am so thankful for it. I take everything I have, everyone I have near me, and I hold on to them tightly as we enter the new year. 2017, i’m ready when you’re ready.