My time abroad was unlike anything I had expected. I came to Spain wanting to travel as much of Europe as I can while doing as minimal amount of school work possible! While I did do a bit of travelling, the things I valued most were the memories and friends I made during my time here. In my wildest expectations of my time abroad I never imagined I would meet such amazing people and grow to feel as if I had a family away from home. While Pamplona may not have been my destination if I chose again, I would never trade my exchange experience for anyone else’s. I learned here that the best thing in the world you can spend your money on is experiences. Whether it’s just going for drinks or taking a trip, these adventures I have had have changed who I am and most likely who I will become. I found confidence to meet new people and realized that no matter where you go it is possible to find a bunch of people who will love you for the weird individual you may be.
During my time here I discovered just how cut off we are in North America. To have a change in culture you have to cross the ocean or at least head south to another continent. But here, culture changes so rapidly, even dramatically within a country. If there was one thing I would change about Canada would be to make it more social like Spain. Everything is so centred on friends and family and no one seems to be so stressed. People sit outside in the jackets on patios when it’s only a few degrees to enjoy the fresh air and company. It’s odd to me how such small countries (land mass wise) can have so many more parks and green spaces within their cities than us in Canada who has almost double the land mass of the EU combined. I guess it all has to do with mindset and what people desire but I will be extremely sad to lose my parks on my return home (though lucky for me I still have endless trails to go through if I desire).
During my time here I felt extremely ashamed to be able to speak only one language. Especially since we are a bilingual country. Europeans abilities to usually speak at least two if not more languages leaves me in awe and feeling slightly ignorant. I constantly had to tell people to stop apologizing for their poor English because at least unlike myself they could speak another language. My goal coming home is to work hard on my Spanish and one day hopefully make myself bilingual. In my wildest dream I would love to make myself trilingual and learn the language I should have learned within my county through my earlier education.
Coming into my last days, aside from being devastated at leaving people, I am reminded of how lucky I am. Not everyone can go to a different continent and study. I’m so grateful to have family that supports my decisions and loves me regardless of my stubbornness and tendency to want to do everything and go everywhere, as if I’m in a constant fear that the world may end tomorrow. Going home I will remember to love the people I am with, cherish every moment of my day, and remember to make the most out of what comes my way. It’s nice to know that all over the world I have individuals who I care great dearly about and know that regardless of different languages, cultures, and backgrounds that for four months we were a family.