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What is the best thing about going home for the holidays?

December 21st, 2010 nmmari12

What is the best thing about going home for the holidays?…Well besides my mother´s ginger bread cookies, it is knowing that there is another amazing, eventful and exciting semester waiting for me in Spain. Within 24 hours, I will be halfway over the Atlantic, heading towards the familiar continent to the west. While I cannot wait to see family, friends, Starbucks, Lou Malnoti’s Pizza, and the new family dog, I am in complete disbelief. Time has flown by way too quickly. I must admit, there have been moments this semester when I was caught in self-doubt, homesickness and culture shock, but I have learned that this is completely normal. To all those studying abroad in the coming years, you will go through this, but more importantly, you WILL get over it, and be stronger. Looking back on the semester on the eve of my departure, it really seems like just yesterday when I said the teary goodbye to my parents at Boston Logan, terrified beyond belief as to what was ahead.

While it may sound cheesy and cliché to say, I am not that same teary eyed and scared girl. I am not completely sure how I have changed, and probably won´t realize completely until I am home or further in the future. But I know that I have changed dramatically in two ways. First, I have more confidence in myself. I have confidence that I can move to a different country and create a life for myself, involve myself in different activities and improve in a language I could barely speak.  Second, I have a new appreciation for other cultures.  Traveling to Morocco, Portugal, Ireland and throughout Spain has made me realize that while we all might celebrate different holidays, speak different languages and have different values, that we are all people and in one way or another can relate to each other and most importantly, get along.

However, there are many unfinished plans, conversations, travels, and experiences that I have yet to complete in Spain. Thankfully, (while I may have complained before) HC makes the majority of the study abroad students stay for a year in their host country, as a way of completely immersing themselves in the culture. While I do miss HC and all my friends on the hill, I am not quite done with my experience in Spain and I am so thankful that I have another semester waiting for me when I return!

Dato Diveritdo: A lot of Spanish high school students try to go to the USA for one full academic year. It is quite competitive to get a spot in this program, but the kids who come back are very fluent in English. Kristen, James and I interviewed a few of these prospective students today (in English!), and it was quite interesting to see the interview process from the interviewer´s point of view. While a lot of the kids were quite nervous during their interview, the majority of them could speak English very well. It was very exciting for me to see these students passion to learn another culture and language and be willing to live in a different country for such a long period of time. It was pretty inspirational.

¡Feliz Navidad!

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