I have one more day left here in Madrid. Writing that down feels so weird. It feels as if just yesterday I wrote my week-one wrap-up. It just goes to show that time really does fly when you’re having fun. This new place and these new people and experiences have gone by in a blink of an eye, and I’m really not sure where the time went (maybe it went into the two hour naps I took every day? Not sure). But as I am sitting here on my bed in Madrid for one of the last times, I can’t help but think of how incredibly grateful I am for this experience.
While I have been in Madrid I have experienced a very different way of life. The air is hotter, the people walk faster (and talk faster, for that matter, oh my), the meals last longer, the nights end later and the Sangria tastes sweeter. But as is with any adventure, my favorite part about this trip was the people I got to share it with. I was blessed with three roommates who love and support one another (and make fun of each other to no end). The number of inside jokes we have managed to create in the span of a single month is actually incredible. I have laughed more on this trip than I have in a really, really long time. And I loved that. We got to laugh together, cry together, become single together, cook meals together, and drink way-too-expensive drinks together. I love these girls, and because of them I was able to love Madrid even more.
I also loved being in Europe because I was able to travel to different places that aren’t as easily accessible from the U.S. The second weekend I was able to travel to Paris for three days with one of my roommates. It was a super last minute decision, but it ended up panning out perfectly. We got the perfect little AIRBNB that was about a seven minute walk from the Eiffel Tower, we had other friends there that we were able to meet up with, and we just so happened to be there for Bastille Day. Watching the fireworks explode off of the Eiffel Tower surrounded by millions of people was an incredible sight. It is an experience I will never forget. Paris, you are in my heart forever.
Another weekend trip I was able to take was to Valencia, Spain with all of my roommates. The trip started off kind of rocky because our AIRBNB host was not at the apartment to let us in until about 3 hours after we arrived (talk about annoying). So we had to wait outside of the apartment until the cleaning lady was finally able to let us in. Luckily there were several restaurants right below our apartment so we were able to just relax and get some food and drinks while we waited. But still, three hours? I mean, come on. Anyway, this trip ended up being just what we needed. Compared to the Madrid heat we’ve been living in, the 80 degree air in Valencia was a refreshing change (not to mention the ocean breeze. Boy have I missed that)! Not to mention we finally found some gosh dang acai in Spain. I had been craving it ever since I got here, and Valencia had the most amazing place called Almalibre Acai Bar that had the BEST bowls. Ugh, take me back.
But the beach was by far the best part. And if you know me, you know I hate the beach, so me saying that is a pretty big deal. I guess the saying: “Distance makes the heart grow finder” really is true. I can’t remember the last time I actually had the desire to swim in the ocean. But wouldn’t you know, little ole me hopped right into the warm waters of Valencia and swam my little booty off all day. It was exhilarating. The waves were smaller than at home so it was a nice transition for me. This experience made me want to love the ocean. It made me want to surf and dive into waves and taste the sea salt. It sounds crazy typing that because I have always hated the ocean. I guess traveling really makes you experience new things!
After Valencia marked our last week of class. Overall my class wasn’t too difficult, although it was a challenge sometimes because the professors only spoke Spanish to us. But in the end I think it helped me learn better. I just had my final and it went really well, so I’m really happy that I ultimately accomplished what I came here to do. I really enjoy learning Spanish and this has been an incredible way to apply it to everyday situations.
So overall I am extremely grateful that my mom randomly told me I should go to Spain for the summer. I had no idea that this trip would shape me so much and end up giving me such a desire for live and vibrancy and new experiences. I didn’t know I was going to be blessed with such amazing people who I will appreciate forever. And I didn’t know that this trip would once again find a way to rekindle my passion for God. I have grown so much as a person that all I can do, after looking inside of myself for so long, is look up at Him, the one who was shaping me all along. I began a new Bible study here, and I began writing more here, and I even started a new, exciting project here.
What I would say to all of you is: “Do it.” Take that trip you’ve been debating. Wether it’s up to see your grandma an hour away, or road tripping through the mountains with friends, or flying to Europe or Asia or Africa or wherever. Do it. Money will come and go no matter where you’re at or what you’re doing in life. Don’t let it go to waste on things that aren’t important. Invest it into traveling and time spent exploring places you want to see and being with people you love. So plan that trip, let it change you, and thank me later ;).
Thank you God, for leading me to Madrid, and thank you Madrid for once again leading me to God. Madrid, you will always feel like home.