They tell you during orientation that studying abroad will change your life, that you are yellow people living in a red world and that when you leave to return home, you will be orange people living in a yellow world. They tell you that studying abroad will revolutionize the way you view the world, the way you view yourself, and challenge every core part of your being and all that you think you know. All of this is somehow still an understatement to the beauty and irrevocable impact Alicante has left in my life. It is a beautiful thing to be lost in the right direction, to wander among a place where you don’t know the people or city but yet everything feels familiar, as if you are remembering your way around instead of learning it all for the first time: it’s as if you’ve found the place where your heart was always meant to go, always meant to love, always meant to experience. I wandered islands, I climbed castles, I spoke to oceans and drank in their answers. I watched the sunset from El Castillo De Santa Barbara, the sunrise from Playa del Postiguet, snorkeled off the Isla De Tabarca, met some of the most incredible friends and teachers, and found another home.
I had never realized how much I was missing out on in life by always working so hard and so fast that I never took a moment to breathe and look at the world around me. The culture of the United States is one of “time is money” and to enjoy is to be lazy or unmotivated or to doom oneself to fall behind; when in reality, taking time to drink a coffee and socialize or eat tapas and drink wine has given me more than any dollar amount ever could. I gained an appreciation for life in Alicante, one that I thought I had always had but really just spent my whole life chasing until I realized it has been inside of me all along and I just needed to take a moment and not be afraid to chase what set my soul on fire. I challenged myself to move to a higher program where all of my courses would be taught and tested in Spanish; and it was honestly the best choice I could have made for myself. I learned I was far more capable than I was giving myself credit for and the journey I embarked on and grew with my level of Spanish was unbelievable. I went to every single intercambios activity, cooking class, dancing class, surfing lesson, movie night, etc (all except for one when I was sick which ruined my perfect streak) and threw every part of my being into getting the most out of my 4.5 months there. I had never felt more out of my comfort zone and yet at peace than while abroad. It is incredible to learn about all of the ways human connection can exist and flourish outside of just speaking the same language. I traveled to several different cities in various countries: London, Salzburg, Madrid, Barcelona, Munich, Manchester, Valencia, Naples, Florence, Milan, Rome, Athens, etc. and saw all of the things I had only ever read about in books. & For the first time: I felt like I knew the kind of person I wanted to be.
Since I was young, I had always stressed about doing the right thing 24/7. I worked myself so hard in school, worked 2 or 3 jobs the entire time I’d been in college, and had originally intended to graduate in 3 years. However, during my Fall semester of Junior year, on a whim, I decided to study abroad instead of graduating early. I filled out an application for Madrid but a couple days before it was due, decided to switch for Alicante instead. It just felt right, and I trusted my gut. During my first week in Spain, I saw the words “Lo que será será” on a poetry book in El Corte Ingles, I fell in love with those words and bought the book. I told myself, that every moment in my life, every choice, every failure, every success, etc had all built up to what had brought me to Alicante. It was simply meant to be. I never wanted to forget all of the life lessons and memories that 4.5 months had given me, the level of peace and passion I found within myself. So on my last day in Alicante, I tattooed “Lo que será será” on my inner ankle, a place I would always see it and could be reminded of the person I wanted to be. I am now an orange person living in a yellow world. But I am slowly but surely finding ways to spread my color. No hay palabras que hagan justicia a esta experiencia. Estoy cambiado para siempre por la felicidad y el amor que encontré en Alicante y todas las personas que conocí. Ya me lo pierdo, pero sé que lo volveré a ver. España: eres la leche. Buen Camino.