Checking Out

Posted on September 5th, 2012 by

When I got the acceptance letter to spend a year in Sevilla ,Spain I started counting down the days until the flight. In one hundred fifty six days I would officially be living, not visiting as some tourist, but living, eating, reading, writing, speaking, everything as a Spanish student. It was a day I dreamt of for years and now that there was an official number to my goal, my excitement waned. There was plenty of pre-travel preparation that I wasn’t particularly thrilled to do. I would advise any student studying abroad to look carefully at the visa process. It took approximately five months and 1000 dollars to get mine. There were many inconvenient requirements at awful times so I say plan accordingly because I definitely did not. I could have saved a lot more money and time without sacrificing my studies.

As the summer came up before the trip, I spent my time living and working at a university so I had to cast my aspirations of studying in Spain aside. Although I forgot about my countdown over the next 10 weeks I never forgot the date. In the wake of a trip abroad I found myself gravitating towards the international students. Many were in the same boat as me doing research in some discipline or the other. I’ve met many foreigners in America, but it wasn’t until I met these students, all of which were within their first six months in America, that I started to appreciate the gravity of what it meant to be a foreigner. I was going to be doing what they were currently doing successfully and my Spanish skills were pretty rough.

The thought of being a stranger made me extremely nervous. I spent hours studying Spanish, and listing to music hoping to reduce my accent, trying to be as authentic as possible. But the international crowd definitely gave me the perspective I was desperately looking for. One friend from Saudi Arabia sounded perfectly American but he had been here for 5 years! He told me that a year will be plenty of time to get along in another country but that it would take some time to fool others into believing you’re an actual citizen. I assumed that no matter how hard I tried I would never get the Spanish lisp correctly but it was inspiring to see him almost completely matriculated. If an international student can get along here then whatever nervousness I have will surely be manageable.

At the time of this writing (9/1) I will be leaving tomorrow. I can’t figure out the packing situation so I’m just bringing some clothes, a laptop and mementos from home. Food and shelter will be provided so what more could I ask for? Thanks to my time with other extranjeros I know now that although I’m surely not prepared, I’m ready.


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