Josh Meinert 
2012-13 Outbound to Spain
Hometown: Tallahassee, FL
School: Leon High School
Sponsor: District 6940, FL
Host: District TBA, Spain
Club TBA

December 12, 2012

The past 91 days here have been absolutely amazing! I'm already dreading the day I have to leave. I'm learning so much about Spanish culture, the Spanish language, and about myself. I've met some great people, have eaten some delicious new foods, and traveled to some pretty cool places. So much has happened in so little time but it seems like I've been here forever. I can't explain it and I don't know if I ever will be able to. I think about the people that I've met and that just over two months ago I didn't even know who they were.

Miranda de Ebro is a nice city of about 45,000 people and is split in two parts by a river. Most of my friends live towards the middle of the city and on a normal weekend we go there for the day and sit on benches and eat sunflower seeds. During the week I practice soccer with my friend's team. Even though I'm terrible the guys make me feel like a part of the team. School ends at 2:30 and then I go home to eat lunch and at 3:00 I take a siesta until around 5. 

I think about the language and how far I am from being fluent and then I look back and see all the progress I've made. It's hard to not be understood but it is ever more frustrating not being able to make people understand. Learning a new language is so fun but it's hard when I'm not learning and I just have to speak using what I already know. I was talking with another exchange student the other day in Spanish and it seemed like my level was incredible for only being here 3 months. However, when I open my mouth and try to speak with someone I get all choked up and the words come out more like vomit. Every day I learn something new and speak a little bit more and every day I grow a little on the inside.

The second month of my exchange was the hardest for me. I had gotten over the initial excitement of being in a new place with new people and new everything a little bit before the typical exchange student and I started to get a bit homesick. I would have the most elaborate dreams about returning home to my friends and telling them about all of the awesome adventures I've had. But then.. things started to become normal. These people are no longer just a part of my "trip to Spain." These people are now my family. For every piece of my life that I had to say goodbye to when I boared the plane I've found a Spanish equivalant. 

Exchange has made me feel so many different emotions and at times there are just too many of them. But no matter how shitty my day is going, talking to another exchange student always cheers me up. I guess that's just the family that Rotary Youth Exchange builds! 

Hasta luego

Joshua