March 29, 2014

How It's Supposed to Be

"How is Spain?!" "Are you fluent in Spanish yet?" "Are you bringing home a Spanish boy?"

Curious messages appear from my friends, family, and random creatures from my past. Everyone seems to think that I'm here living some crazy adventure, seeing the world, and meeting tons of new people, which, truthfully, I am. However, not everyday am I climbing mountains or travelling to an exotic country. I, sometimes, worry that my "everydays" are not up to par for the stories I plan on telling.

Slowly but surely, I'm learning to accept the Spanish (read: slower) pace of life. This morning, I was talking with a good friend and she said, "What's wrong with going to bed early and lounging around? What's wrong with spending time with friends and just enjoying ourselves?" I've realized that I'm not going to be here forever. When I go home, my busy life will consume me again but right now, what is wrong with just being?

In two months, I will return to all the comforts of home and America. I will be cuddling with my puppy and watching Duck Dynasty with my younger brother. I'll be drinking wine and swapping stories with my mother on the back porch. I'll drive over to my best friend's house and eat too many pizza puffs while watching horrible made for TV movies. I'll take showers that are longer than five minutes and I won't even have to turn the water off halfway through. I'll never be more than fifteen minutes from a Taco Bell and I'll get to eat Reese's cups and Swedish fish whenever I feel the urge. 

Then I think of all the things I take advantage of that I won't be able to take home with me. Hiking in the Sierra Nevada Mountains on weekend. Freshly baked bread available everyday. Ordering only a drink and getting a plate full of free snacks. Dear America, please adopt tapas bars. Not having to tip waiters. Taking day trips to the beach for $15. Churros con chocolate. Spending less $100 and two hours to fly to a foreign country. The freedom to be reinvent myself in a place where nobody knows me. 

I keep worrying I'm doing study abroad "right"...whatever that means. I wonder if I need to go out more at night, or focus more on school, or venture to more countries, or make crazier decisions. I keep wondering if there is something that is going to cause me to look back on this semester with regret. Last night, I realized though, that the only thing getting in the way of my experience is me wasting time worrying about my experience. 

The truth is, it does not matter if I spend every night in the discoteca or if I spend it in the library. It does not matter if I have many Spanish suitors or if I stick to my girls. My experience here is mine alone. I cannot compare it those in my program or the stories from my friends from home have told me. Gazing across old journal entries and even gazing into the mirror, I can see how much I've changed thusfar this semester.

When I look in the mirror, I smooth out my straight across bangs and hope I look a little more European. I still don't drink my coffee black or speak Spanish fluently, but the past few months have come with many lessons learned. With all the experiences I've had and the adventures I've taken, I know that, without a doubt, I am making choices future Marissa will be proud to have lived through. I've got stories for my friends and pictures for my mom.

The best realization, though, is that I'm only halfway there. I still have two months to be as crazy or as focused or as "European" as I want to be. The only thing I plan on changing is my ever-present fear that I'm messing this all up because that is impossible when you are already living your dream.

*Meme was found on Pinterest. It is not my own.
**Picture was taken by Marianne Blythe-Reske

No comments:

Post a Comment