My bags are packed. My heart is full. It’s my last day abroad in Salamanca. I woke up this morning and met the two friends I missed yesterday for cupcakes and tea to say goodbye. One of them gave me the sweater off of her back before I left and I will cherish it, not only because it’s cute, but because it reminds me of her. I gave them both big hugs and walked home sad and happy.img_5104img_5107I came home to wait for lunch, then my host mom’s daughter and granddaughter came in to say goodbye. I gave them both big hugs and wanted to say so much more than I knew how to in that moment, and I think the granddaughter felt the same. It was a sweet moment though. Then we had lunch, finished packing, and my roommate and I took one last walk to the river.img_5114img_5116img_5121I’ve said it multiple times, but it remains true that this is my favorite spot in Salamanca. It’s also where my roommate and I bonded at the beginning of the semester, so it felt right to go one last time. It was quiet, empty, and extremely cold, but beautiful and calming. I stared up at the tops of wintry trees and talked about things I’ve learned and want to hold on to when I go home.

We stopped at the grocery store for last minute items, then headed back home again when I got an email from my program director saying she found a letter for me in the office. It was from my grandma and was so sweet, and getting it gave me a chance to say goodbye to my director. She’s been so awesome and helpful this entire semester with all of my medical issues, and we’ve shared some really great conversations. I’m thankful for her passion for this program and for life in general. We hugged, and I walked home reading my letter with a huge grin on my face. Then, I ran into my host mom’s daughter and granddaughter once more and walked home with them. I got to have one last hug before they got on the elevator. Again, my heart is full.

What I’ve loved most about this trip has been the traveling and the people I’ve grown to love. Tonight I am feeling excited to go home and sad to be so far from all of these things again. My ideas of Spain have been changed and are now deeper, more full and complex, and largely consist of the love I have for it because of these people and experiences. My knowledge of the world is richer and wider. My knowledge and care for myself are as well. I think one of the coolest things about Salamanca is the way the old, historic town has adapted to changing times and maintains its beauty and history. There is constant maintenance on the old buildings and streets, but there are also cars that drive through streets that don’t look like cars should be on them. There are concerts in the Plaza Mayor that used to be a ring for bullfights. It’s very cool and interesting to see. I’m glad I’ve gotten to live in a different culture for a part of my life and learn about a completely different country.

Soon, I’m going to have my last dinner with my roommate and host mom. I’ll take a picture with my host mom, and then maybe go out with my roommate until it’s time for her to leave. Then, a few hours later, I’ll be getting on a bus to the airport. My flight home is eleven hours, and when I land it’s going to be 2:40pm in the States, but for me it will feel like 9:40pm. I don’t think I’m going to write tomorrow. I will probably write more in the next week or so, but I have no plan right now and am probably going to take some time off to be with family and friends and my bed. You can follow the blog to be notified of new posts if you’d like. So, to cap off this trip, I’m going to add a list of some of my goals for going home just like I did at the beginning for coming here. This is a product of all of the things I have learned while taking a semester away from my normal life and everyone I know. I hope you enjoy, and thank you so much for following my journey.

  • Stay positive and determined for my thesis. This trip was my dream that I fought for and made happen, and it’s time to do the same thing with my creative thesis.
  • Set time every week to simply be with and love on someone. I want to make room for love in my life instead of stressing about things that ultimately won’t matter. My friends and family and the time I spent with them will.
  • Do more for the environment in terms of reusing and recycling. Love people and love the planet.
  • Be super organized for my students and school work. This is part of loving them and creating the most opportunity to help them.
  • Get a teacher wardrobe that expresses my nerdy and artistic self. It’s part of embracing and being proud of who I am.
  • Do more for my friends and family like baking and finding recipes they will like and that will be healthier.
  • Meal prep for myself and the family at least a few days each week.
  • Work out consistently. Again, this is a part of showing up for my students and the people in my life as well as keeping myself healthy and feeling good. If I don’t have the energy to bring my best to them, I probably won’t be very much help for them.
  • Remind myself of the ways I’ve learned to take care of myself: don’t drink, only seek friendships, don’t give in to the desire to wear makeup, and make decisions that are smart and healthy even if they don’t necessarily reflect what I feel at the moment.
  • Keep practicing Spanish because it will be important, especially working in a school.
  • And finally, the biggest thing I have learned on this trip is that my number one goal in life is to be something good for people. I don’t want to cause any more pain to myself or others if I can avoid it because that lasts forever. I want to be a force of good in the world with honesty and love, and I want to learn how to keep getting better at that for people. This trip has helped me feel that naturally because I’ve also learned to let go of things I thought were important or cool or what I (society) wanted, and it’s helped me learn to judge others less. If, at the end of my life, I can say that I have loved others and been something good for them, I will have had a successful life.

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