This may be the last you hear from me signing on in Madrid, Spain. My time has come to a close earlier than anticipated. I am hiking it back to the states to pursue business school back in the great ole state of Louisiana, and hope to score an awesome internship this summer as well. But, none of this until I take one last backpacking trip to Eastern Europe! When I get home, I’ll be writing a collective post outlining each one of my trips I took while I was here, mostly told by pictures to avoid inevitable boredom. Plus, pictures speak 1000 words, so I’ll have the post done in no time! Ok, bad joke. Whatever.
As a closing “Spain post”, I also think it’s important to come full circle with a couple things, because that’s what seems to happen in life. Life after all, is like one big circle.
First of all, remember that mean as dirt bus driver I had that kicked me off the bus in the beginning of the year?
Not only do we say “hola” to each other now, but the man is a smiling ball of sunshine who you’d swear volunteered at a nursing home in his off hours and worked at a soup kitchen over the weekends. Okay, maybe that’s a little exaggerated, but y’all, this man is NICE.
I don’t care what happened, all I know is it did. Only once in a blue moon do I still catch a twinkle in his eye when a small child falls when he slams on the break. And then it’s gone again in the flash of an eye, and I start questioning if it was all in my head.
When I started my job, I swore off children basically until the day I died. Not only did I have 0 experience with them, but they absolutely annoyed the heck out of me. Why do they stand so close to you? Why do they ask you 10,000 questions? Why in god’s name do they cry so damn much?! 2 months ago, I was teaching a class when one little kid goes, “Javier, estás bién?” Now I have no idea why I thought this or what happened, but I imagined just for a second he had snuck some food in class and he was choking. In about half a second, Javier’s little life flashed before my eyes. Everything the child had said in class, everything I knew about his life and his family, it all came rushing to me. I literally LEAPED out of my stool and said “WHAT?! IS HE OKAY?? WHAT’S WRONG??” I clearly had panic in my voice. I looked around for Javier, only to realize that he was looking at his finger in dismay after getting a paper cut.
Now the point to that story was not to prove how paranoid I am or how I sweat over the small stuff, which I’m now realizing points out both of these things. And it’s definitely not to prove that I am my mother’s daughter, which clearly this can also be checked off the list by this tale. The point was, I realized in that moment that I cared. These kids, no matter if I barely know them or know them very well have become my babies. I began thinking back to all the terrible tragedies that have happened to poor kiddos over the years, and although it angered me before, now it completely consumes me in rage. Now when I watch a parent struggling with a kid who is being bratty or obnoxious in public, instead of getting annoyed like I would in the past, I give the parent a look of understanding. After all, I see this 8000 times a day, and not necessarily because they raised their child badly, but because it’s a kid being a kid. I literally laugh about 20 times a day at a one-liner one of them throws at me, and seeing one cry pretty much melts my heart on the spot. And every once in awhile, I look around and realize every single child in the room has a smile on their face, and that makes me undeniably happy.
Maybe I’ve grown up. Maybe I’ve learned to care. Maybe it’s a combination, but anyway you slice the cake, I really care about where these kids go and what they do with their lives. I want to see them succeed, and just seeing them laugh or coming up to give me a huge hug just puts me in the best mood. I’m feeling oddly like the grinch right now..
My level of Spanish has improved more than I knew it ever could. My understanding is at about 90% (of Spaniards.. Central and South American accents I need some serious work) and talking is probably at around a 70%,. This is mostly because my kids try talking to me in Spanish all day, but I am required to respond in English. A LOT of people do not understand how difficult it is to actually become fluent in a language. Trust me people, it does not take a year in a foreign country. It takes much more intense work than that. For some it comes easier than others. It all depends on the person and how much personal effort you put into it. I was here not only to pick up some Spanish, but had a lot of other things on my plate as well, which made my Spanish suffer quite a bit. In the end I am extremely proud of the level I achieved. If I could somehow keep this level forever, I’d say I’d be alright.
I am in the midst of updating my bucket list. Although I may not get 100% checked off my list, I think I hardly could have done better. And as my mom always says, you need to leave some things for the next time. I can definitely see some truth in that.
At the end of my travels, I will have visited 9 countries. 9 flipping countries. Maybe I should just cross into Portugal this weekend just to make it an even 10. Just kidding. Kind of. As I mentioned, I will outline each one of these trips in a group post to show more of what I experienced this year. I could not be more thankful for these opportunities, and I am thankful to every person that helped me have the experiences that I did, whether it’s family and friends at home, or those I’ve met during my travels and time in Madrid. I am out of words to express to you how much I appreciate everything you’ve given me, whether it be memories or funds to make them. I am forever in debt to all of you.
Call it a transition year, call it a year of growth, call it a gap year, or call it what you will. I call it a hell of a time. A bittersweet “adios” from Madrid, y’all. See you state-side. Spain, don’t worry- I’ll be back soon. After all, life is just one big circle.
Maury will continue to write on this blog throughout her graduate school career, with the focus on New Orleans, Louisiana. She will discuss everything from finding a place to live to finding the best margarita in town. She will continue to answer emails regarding Spain, the BEDA Program, as well as accepting emails regarding Louisiana culture, food, travel, and any general questions you may have. As always, please direct these questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or comment right here on her blog. Thank you for reading!