Climbing Castles: My Semester Abroad
By: Adriana Moreno
Have you ever done something that was so amazing, so life fulfilling, that the next day you woke up and it felt like it was all just a dream? My semester abroad felt like one long wonderful dream; a dream that consisted of nothing but the happiest of times, exploring magical places that I thought only existed in fairytales.
But this was no dream. It was real.
Last semester I was fortunate enough to fulfill a life goal to study abroad. Choosing a small city in Spain called Alicante was one of the best decisions I have ever made. There I met the most amazing people from all over the world, merged into a beautiful culture, and truly enjoyed some of the happiest moments in my life. Spain was everything I had hoped for and more.
I spent six (too short) months in Europe. I visited over twenty cities and eight different countries including Spain, Italy, Greece, England, France, Holland, Ireland, and Germany. Each city had a history which allowed me to step back into time. Each had different transportation to master, their own version of doner kebabs, and new and crazy adventures that my friends and I always seemed to find.
So much learning happens outside the classroom. Who wants to merely read history when you can actually tour the Coliseum? Who wants to sit in a classroom when you can learn a second language through friendly conversations with your neighbors? And who wants to listen to lectures when you can experience the world around you by taking a short train ride to the next city? Study hall becomes plane rides and tests turn into navigating back to your hostel without getting completely lost. Lunch in the caf turns into lunch by the canal. And study plans turn into weekend trips and soccer matches.
There were times when I would just sit and think about how my life couldn’t get any better than this exact moment. Sitting in the grass under the Eiffel tower, skipping white stones with the best group of people into the bluest waters in Greece, riding bikes under the windmills in Amsterdam, swimming in the crystal clear waters in Italy, or climbing castles in Spain are memories that will live with me forever.
Although it seems as though studying abroad has no faults, this life changing experience should come with a warning. There are dangers; these dangers arise once your program ends and you’re back in the States. Homesickness hits you. You have fallen in love, maybe or maybe not with the always attractive European men, but with your life abroad. A piece of your heart stays in your host city and you wonder if you will ever get it back. You will find yourself planning more trips even without the funds or time to go. The city Alicante welcomed me in and made me feel more at home than I had felt in years. I fell in love with the people, the food like tapas and paella, the late nights, the scheduled nap times, the dancing, the socializing in the streets, the pastry shops, the bocadillos, and everything else that the city had to offer.
Consider this an invitation as well as a warning because studying abroad will lead you to crave ever more opportunities to travel the world. For once you have been bitten by the travel bug, there is no reversing its effects.