Being back in the states I have already begun to miss my previous home for the past 4 months. I miss wandering around Malasana looking for a new restaurant. I miss hearing Spanish on the streets and conversing with people from a totally different culture. I miss going to a sports bar filled with passionate soccer fans knowledgeable about the team and the sport. Thinking about these things along with countless other make me nostalgic about my time abroad. At the same time being home has been amazing. I’ve been able to spend time with my family lounging on the couch watching stupid TV shows, cooking with my mom, and playing tennis with my dad. The familiarity of life back in Arlington is comforting and very relaxing and it really didn’t take much time at all to adjust.
Not that I didn’t know this before, but I’ve begun to take more of a notice of how amazing a city Washington D.C. is. The other day I drove my mom into the city for work and on the ride back I drove by the capitol, the Lincoln memorial, and on GW parkway I saw the Washington memorial across the potomac river. As much as I had fallen in love with Madrid, Washington wasn’t too shabby itself. There was a reason people travel across the world to see this nations capital and I had lived 5 miles away from it my whole life without really taking advantage of it for what it is. Over the summer, before my internship starts I have pledged to start to explore the city as if I was a tourist here. I probably haven’t been to the smithsonian museums since I went with my middle school classes but if I went to the museums while I was in Madrid there is no reason I shouldn’t now. The national mall is also home to one of the most beautiful parks and if i enjoyed hanging out in Retiro so much, there is no reason I can’t do the same back home. Also in Madrid I was always on the lookout for cool events going on throughout the city, whether its a culture festival or a music show while at home a get stuck in the same routine of going to the same places and hanging with the same people. Now that I know there is so much more out there to experience I want to take on my home city as if I don’t even know it and try to explore and be as open minded as possible.
Another clear thing I learned during my time abroad is how much I like the Spanish language. Being able to converse with someone in their native tongues not only impresses them but also makes you seem more open to their culture. This makes it very clear to me that I won’t to continue to practice Spanish and hopefully reach a level of comfort where I could use it in a business setting. One of my best friends is form Spain and I could try to get lunch with him once a week or once every other week and just use Spanish. I also have the emails of some of my students in Madrid who I can stay in touch with writing back and forth in Spanish. After seeing how many of the kids at IE new 2, 3, or even 4 languages it is apparent to me how essential it is to become fluent in another language especially when businesses are expanding globally.
Back at UVA next semester I hope to get involved with the study abroad program, either talking with prospective “study abroaders” about my experience or talking with incoming students about life at UVA. Some people in Madrid were incredibly inclusive and made a huge difference in m experience and if I can do the same for others I would be happy to do it.
Signing off from my abroad blog! Hoped any and all readers enjoyed the stories of my experience!