Saturday, August 25, 2012

Sooo, where am I again?

I have been back in the U.S. for almost 2 months, and to say the least things are craaaazy different.

When I first landed at Sea-Tac Airport and for the few days that followed before going off to summer camp, I thought I was totally fine. Granted I was jet-lagged and exhausted the entire time, but getting to be with my family and see some friends made me think that the adjustment back into American life wouldn't be so difficult.

I'd been going to this summer camp since I was a little kid, and the friends that I've made there are some of my favorite people in the world. It was a place for me where I always knew that I had someone on my side. But being at that camp was when I really realized just how different I am and how different they all are. Being at that camp showed me that I've changed so much I have no idea who I am anymore. I don't fit in with those old friends, I can't relate to people the way I used to, and I felt disconnected and detached the whole time. What upset me the most is that these friends who I always thought would be there for me weren't, and just acted like nothing happened.

And that's something that's really been getting to me. People are just acting like nothing happened. My exchange in Spain was one of the most beautiful, painful, difficult, eye-opening experiences I've ever had in my life, and I feel like I have so much to say and so much to share but no one's really listening. It's just hard trying to accept that people have changed, and some of my friends who were always there for me aren't the friends I thought they were.

Other than some of that fun emotional stuff, I'm really enjoying being back home. It's so good to reconnect with people, especially the amazing ones who supported me along my whole journey. And it's so good to be back with my family...honestly I missed them so much. Once you have a year away from your family living with a terrible one you really start to understand just how much you love them.

I've been missing Spain, as well. I miss the language, and the places that I visited. I miss the old European architecture and the Spanish lifestyle. I miss my friends, especially my best friend Alex and my host sister Pilar. It's hard not to be with them and not be sure of the next time that I'll be seeing them. I just hope that I can see them soon!

Friday, June 15, 2012


Yesterday I said goodbye to all of my school friends. 

It was a lot harder than I thought that it would be, I didn't realize how important I was to them or how important they were to me. It's quite painful saying goodbye when you don't know when you'll see them again, if you see them again. To say the least, yesterday I was an emotional wreck. 

There are so many emotions running through my head, and I can't describe them in neither Spanish nor English. I'm so excited to go home, to see my friends and family and resume the life that I left behind. But I feel like there are so many things here in Spain that I haven't done. I have so much to learn still, and I don't know if I'll have the opportunity to learn this culture again. This kind of permanence is scaring me. I just pray that the friends that I make here won't drift away from me, they mean so much to me. I've made some life-long friends here and I never want to lose them.

It's been awful. But at least I go on the Rotary trip today! Today we're heading out to Granada to visit the Alhambra. Later we're going to be hitting up Seville, Cordoba, Salamanca, and Lisbon. I'm pretty excited to say the very least! 

At least I'm ending with a bang. I'm excited to see my exchange students friends again, but I wish it didn't have to be so hard to say goodbye to all the others...

Thursday, May 10, 2012

8 months

Being an exchange student is such a bittersweet thing.

In the beginning it was a different feeling. I wanted to be here because this was what I worked so hard for, because I felt that this was what I wanted from myself and therefore I would stay because I didn't want all of my hard work to go to waste. But I was still out of the crowd; I still hadn't gotten into the swing of things and I was so sick of feeling like such an idiot, so my exchange felt more like a personal obligation than something that I truly wanted.

But at 8 months, having let all the little differences and beautiful aspects of this place in, I'm understanding what I'm going to be missing when I go back.

I'm not saying that my old host family was the source of ALL of my problems, but looking back on the five months I spent there I can now see how unhappy I was. I've been living with my best friend's family for the past few months, and they are all absolutely incredible. I love them all so much, and I wish that I could have been with them since the beginning. Being in such an awful situation at home really stopped me from falling in love with this place, but I stopped myself too.

I guess before I felt like all the things that tied me back to Washington were far more important than the things that tied me to Spain, and my mind was so shipwrecked on my past life that it wouldn't let me embrace my present one. Now I find the situation being completely reversed. I have these random moments when I get this wave of panic and I think 'I'm going to have to leave all of this behind in a little over a month'. Sometimes I have moments with friends when I think about how in such a short amount of time I'm going to have to say goodbye to them, and I won't know if I'll ever see them again. Leaving Washington seemed so permanent and the time, but now I realize that leaving Spain will be so much harder. The life that I have here in Spain is a life that I will never have again, and that kind of permanence looming in the near future is a little terrifying for me.

I hate deadlines. So much.

Sunday, March 4, 2012


Oh goodness. Well these past few days have been pretty bad.

My host family's son has been studying abroad in Canada this year, and a few days ago my host parents received an email from Rotary Canada saying that he would be returning home within a few days. So they explained to me that his return home meant that I would have to switch families. They said that they could let me stay in their house until he came home, and then I would have to move to a temporary host family until Rotary could find me a new permanent one. But yesterday morning they woke me up, gave me my bags, and told me that their son would actually be arriving the following day and that I needed to pack my bags and leave before 8 o'clock that night. Without exceptions.

So I packed up my entire life there within two hours and I'm currently staying in another host family a half hour away from Cobena. I absolutely ADORE my temporary host mom. She's seriously the best. I was a little upset yesterday, as you can imagine, so she made me my favorite foods and took me out shopping. I wish I could have been a part of her family from the beginning.

Needless to say I'm a little stressed out. Everything changed so quickly. I just hope that everything turns out all right in the end.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

4ish months!

So sorry about not being so consistent with these posts! I get pretty busy, life of an exchange student and all that :)
So I've absolutely fallen head-over-heels in love with this country. It was a little difficult to enjoy myself at first, but now that I'm getting the hang of it I can really appreciate it. I've learned so much about myself and the world in only a few months, and a lot about the kind of person that I want to be. I love this culture, this history, the people...I just can't believe how lucky I am to be here.

I came to the conclusion a couple days ago that I am overworking myself, and I think that that's part of the reason why it was a little hard to enjoy myself. I just hate feeling so disappointed in myself, so I work ridiculously hard in school and still feel so ashamed when I can't answer a question in class or when I get a bad grade. I've been letting people's expectations get the better of me. It's improving, but not at the rate that I want.

So I'm just not doing that anymore. I haven't given up, I'm just letting it go. I have more important things to worry about than school, especially 'cause I don't have to get good grades here.

So now that I've told you about my recent school diet, I'll let you know what I've been up to for the past few weeks.

I had my first holiday season away from home, which wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be. I think my host parents tried to keep me busy so I wouldn't miss the states too much :) It was interesting to experience the holidays in a country that's so religion-based. I liked all the weird little traditions too :)
FUN FACT: On New Year's Eve, everytime that the bell chimes at midnight everyone eats a grape. I don't know why I liked that so much.

I visited Segovia and Toledo and they are both AMAZING. They've both lived through the medieval period, so the houses are old and quaint, and I visited my first castles, which was pretty awesome. Including the Alcazar, where King Fernando and Queen Isabel sent Columbus on his journey. I visited El Greco's house and the old Cathedral in Segovia, which is absolutely stunning. I walked along the old Roman acueduct in Segovia and ate authentic (and by far the best in Spain) Marzipan in Toledo. All together a very successful experience :)

I joined a music group that meets after school and I'm really liking it so far. It's another part of my plan, I've been focusing so much on what I can't do lately, but music is something that I can do. It feels so good to play music with friends, so I'm loving that.

So all in all I'm doing very well. I'm understanding now how incredible the country is, and how lucky I am to be here. I'm excited to see my friends and family again, but they can wait for a few months ;)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Almost 3 months

Well I have let waaaay too much time pass. I'll try to fill you in :)
In Spain they have two days off of school for Halloween, so my host family took me to Sevilla for 5 days! It was incredible. I totally fell in love with it! I visited so many beautiful historic places and ate many strange foods, like my first snail! The city itself is absolutely stunning. If you ever have the opportunity to visit Spain I definitely recommend going there!
School is still pretty difficult, but it's definitely getting better. I still study for an average of 5 hours every school night, but I know that I'm improving. I've had my first dream in Spanish, and sometimes when I'm really in the zone I find myself thinking in Spanish also. When people talk to me, I don't have to translate every word in my head anymore, it's more natural. And I can pick up on Spanish jokes easier as well. It's so embarrassing when everyone around you is laughing at something and you have no idea what's going on!
It's getting to be that time of year when you really start to miss home. It was hard to have Thanksgiving without my family, and I know that it'll only be worse during Christmas and New Years. But I am really excited to experience the holidays in Spain. I'm planning a trip to go into Madrid with some friends, because it's supposed to be beautiful during Christmas!
I can't believe I only have about 7 months left here! It seems like no time has passed at all...

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Almost a month!

Wow, I can't believe I've been here for a whole month...I only have 9 left, and it feels like no time has passed at all!
I've had school technically for 3 weeks, but because there have been strikes in Madrid I've only had 1 full week of school. It hasn't been a very pleasant experience for me. I feel so helpless and stupid all the time because I don't understand most of what my teachers say. Everyone says things are going to get better, and I'm sure they will. I just wish my Spanish would hurry up already!
I haven't felt that really insane homesickness that my exchange student friends tell me about, and I haven't felt major culture shock either, but I just feel weird. I feel like I'm losing myself here, and I can't tell if that's a good thing or a bad thing. I guess I don't really feel like Maya anymore. It's just so difficult to be yourself in another language!
There are a bunch of little things that I miss about America. Really unimportant things, but I still miss them. I miss Root Beer and Taco Bell and Subway. I miss Oreos and Reeces Pieces and my mom's coconut macaroons. It's sad that all the things I miss in the states are food-related, but I am an American, after all. Most of all I miss being understood! People say that I speak Spanish well, but my Spanish isn't good enough for me to be super social yet.
I just need to remember that I've only been here for a short amount of time, and I have much more time to learn this language. Besides being a little frustrated with the fact that I can't communicate as well as I would like to, I'm really having fun here! I have really good friends, and I love the Spanish way of life. The people are friendly, the weather is unbelievably nice, and the food is incredible. I'm glad that I still get to have another 9 months in this beautiful country!