2. It’s okay to spend 5 months focusing only on your friends, yourself and having fun. You have the rest of your life to do good. Enjoy the carefree times – they will not last forever. Really. They won’t.
3. Toilets look different in different parts of the country. That’s very important information.
4. There are places in the world where it’s safe to walk alone at night as a woman. I walked home from the bars solo multiple times/week by myself while in Spain. Often when I was inebriated. Nothing bad ever happened to me and I never felt unsafe. Not that any woman, sober or not, shouldn’t be able to feel safe while walking at night. Not too mention that most assaults on women are by someone they know. Wait, I thought this was a happy post. Anyways, the point is, I wouldn’t walk home by myself consistently probably anywhere in the United States. But in Spain, I could and I did and it was a very nice change. Oh yeah and I wouldn’t get drunk multiple times/week anymore. Just to clarify.
5. If you want to know how much progress you’ve made when learning a new language, go to a country where you don’t speak the language at all. Early on in my semester abroad, I went to Portugal for the weekend. I could only say “thank you” and “I don’t speak Portuguese” in Portuguese. But I kept thinking, “Dah, if only they were speaking Spanish, I’d be fine.” And that’s when I realized my Spanish wasn’t half malo.
6. You are capable of staying up all night. Maybe you already knew that. But when I arrived in Spain, I’d stayed up all night maybe once. And in my first week in Spain, I went out one night and watched the clock strike four, then five then six am. And from there on out, I stayed up at least once per week until 7 am, sometimes 8 am. Never did that before and for damn sure, I never was able to do it again.
7. Cola and red wine is an odd but not horrendous mix. Just look up calimocho and you’ll understand. It’s a game.
8. The best times of your life are probably not over when you think they’re over. The night I left Spain, I was so sad. I didn’t think I was going to cry, even though that was all I felt like doing. But I often don’t cry until after the moment has passed. So I was sad but also annoyed that I can never cry in the moment. Then I was getting in a taxi to the airport and looked up to see my hostmom holding her dog and waving down to me. Something about that… it just broke me down and I began sobbing. I couldn’t believe study abroad was over. ‘I’ll never have that much fun again,’ I thought. Poor me, I know. But it was a pang to the heart. And yet. Life went on. And fun went on. Sure things were never as consistently carefree and there has been some real sh*t gone down. But I continued to have just as great times. And because I have experienced five absolutely blissful months, I also know that I want and need variety, including the tough times.