I sit here, in the Berlin Tegel Airport, before my Ryanair flight down to Malaga, Spain, where my Granada, Spain, study abroad program initially meets. It’s four in the morning, and while slightly drained, this calm moment between passing airport security and boarding the aircraft is an excellent opportunity to reflect on the previous month and my intentions for the ones to come.
My time in Europe began nearly a month ago in Galicia, Spain, where I visited a cousin of mine and his family. I spent the remainder of August on an improvised solo backpacking trip throughout Portugal, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany.
Before leaving home a month ago, I anticipated myself eagerly awaiting touching down in Malaga for the structure my program would provide. However, while wandering Berlin’s Mauerpark, the evening before my departure, I became aware that I was not keen on relinquishing the complete independence I had wielded for the previous month.
Still, I am impatient to start living in Granada and immerse myself in the Spanish language. Communicating with everyone from fellow backpackers to bus drivers throughout my travels helped me to fully understand the extent to which shared deep proficiency of a language can accelerate the formation of meaningful connections. Yet, I noted, with some discomfort, that in my case, these were always in one of my native languages. This observation has added significance to my objective of tremendously improving my Spanish abilities while abroad. By semester’s end, I aim to be able to return the language favor to native Spanish-speakers, increasing both of our likelihoods of forming substantive relationships composed of diverse experiences.