Going into the program, I had no prior expectations and was a bit nervous considering I was slightly behind the other students in knowledge of the Spanish language. However, I was in for a memorable ride I would never forget. We were all picked up from the bus by our host family. The entirety of the car ride to my host house consisted of my host dad speaking and me not understanding a single word. All I could think of was "what did I just get myself into."
I did not expect to pick up on the language so quickly, but being immersed in the language taught me in a way the classroom never could. I had no idea that Spain Spanish was so different (both in word choice and accent) from the Latin American Spanish I was used to in school -- now I am a bit of a Spanish snob as I prefer Spain Spanish over any of the others. My family didn't become just a host house, but still to this day feels like an actual family. Needless to say, I miss them oodles. We still Skype once a week.
Going to another country has taught me independency and confidence in a way no other experience could have. First of all, if I can speak with strangers in a total alien language, I can for sure give a speech in my native language in front of a crowd. I took full advantage of my weekends, traveling all over Spain. Public transportation and hostels taught me how to safely fend for myself and figure things out on my own. This was done, shockingly, without Google, considering my phone only worked in spaces with wifi. Becoming less dependent on my phone made me experience life in the moment, instead of half living it while simultaneously worrying about the lives of everyone else.
I can't even rave enough about my experiences and how they changed my life. All I know is the hardest thing is getting back into the flow of a normal, set scheduled life in a busy and stressed American lifestyle. I miss the slow and relaxed, but completely lovable culture of Spain. It is impossible to describe the ways in which you will grow as a person, or to relate your experience to a person who hasn't been in the position themselves. It was worth every penny and all I can concentrate on is on the day I will return.