I have spent the last 111days in Europe (mostly in Granada, with 4 other countries mixed in there). In 12 days and 17 hours, I will be on my way back to sunny, beautiful Los Angeles, California. I have missed my home oh so terribly at times, but it is without a doubt that I would do this all over again (and maybe bring my dog along, because everyone has a dog here!)
Being away from home soon made me realize what I value about home…and what I am looking to transplant from Spain to the USA.
1. My family and friends. I just so happen to live in what I consider to be the most amazing place in the world (geographically) but I would trade that all in as long as I am with those I love most, namely my parents and pup. Honestly, I could be from a snow-covered land in Alaska and I would still miss my loved ones terribly. Home is not just a physical location that holds your comfortable bed (although I am looking forward to my plush mattress!), it is about who you share your home with. Or better yet- “Family is not just who you live with, its who you cannot live without.”
2. The Sunshine State. I never realized how lucky I am to live in a place where it can be 75 and sunny year-round. Some people say “But you don’t have seasons!” Oh, we have seasons alright. We just skip the bad ones! I chose Granada in part because I was told the weather was very similar to home. Let me tell you, its not. It has been pouring rain for 3 days straight- in May! But in all fairness, it has been the coldest weirdest winter/spring seasons throughout all of Europe (just my luck). I have realized that the weather really affects your mood and motivation to do anything, especially when your primary mode of transportation = your two legs. When the sun came out and the temperatures peaked 70 degrees, the people of Granada flooded the streets. The Alhambra looked more majestic than ever. This change in ambience in the city made me value what I get to go home to.
3. Structure. When we first arrived we were told not to stress about anything. Spaniards are far more relaxed than Americans, and after all, we were 20-some year olds studying abroad. Really, our only care should be where we wanted to spend Semana Santa. We learned a key phrase- No pasa nada which basically means “Everything is alright.” If you drop something, No pasa nada. Spill something, No pasa nada. You’re running late… Ok so this is where I draw the line. I’m a stickler for punctuality in part because my parents are always running late. So adjusting to “Spanish time” was interesting. I liked it at first. I don’t have to sprint to class if I’m a few minutes late- awesome! But at the same time, I don’t like the idea of making others wait, especially not an entire class. There are only so many hours in a day and so many days that we get to spend abroad, so I don’t want to waste a single second. So my dearest España, thank you for helping me relax. But at the same time, sometimes Sí pasa algo.
4. Let’s go to… The Spanish culture is very social. And I LOVE IT. At any given hour of the day (including 4am on your way back from a discoteca) you will find people walking in the streets of Granada, which is a beautiful thing because you are truly never alone. Cafes and tapas bars are never empty. And good company is always abundant. I am really going to miss being able to call a friend and say “Hey let’s meet at our favorite place for churros and chocolate.”
5. 65 is the new 20 So not only are the streets full, but they are full of people of ALL ages- babies, teens, adults, senior citizens. Even pups roam happily! One of my favorite memories comes from my walk home back from a tapas bar at around midnight and an older couple was walking, arm in arm, with not a care in the world. They were dressed very sharply and were just taking an afternoon stroll. It was truly an inspiring moment. So often we are told that retirement = time to slow down. Ok, so maybe you stop working 40 hours a week. But life goes on, and you can still keep strolling!
It’s been a pleasure, Granada. But America is my first love…