Miles, Outbound to Spain

I have been in Spain for roughly six months and I can confidentially say that it has been the most life changing experience I have ever had. I have gained a strong boost in confidence, maturity, self esteem as well as an improved understanding of the world around me. My time here has been rough at times like my first month where I was home sick but other than that it has been amazing. Not only am I learning a new language but I also have a good grasp on the culture and politics of my area. I live in a town called vic in Catalonia and people mainly speak Catalan so it’s a little bit harder for me to learn Spanish than I thought but I am at a comfortable level right now. I speak Spanish to my family and friends but my school is in Catalan so I don’t understand much. A big positive aspect of living in Catalonia is the politics though. Currently Spain and Catalonia are in a large dispute because Catalonia wants to secede and become its own country. It’s really interesting being able to experience Catalan protests and rallies first hand. Both of my host families have been on the side of Catalonia so I am a little biased against Spain but I still feel that I have a good understanding of the situation. Another big advantage of being in Catalonia is that I am only about an hour and a half away from Barcelona by train so I can basically go whenever I want. I have a group of friends that I go to Barcelona with on some weekends and there is always something new to do. Barcelona is also very important for the skateboarding community and I love to skate so that’s a nice touch. So far I have lived with two different families that were both pretty different. It was really nice getting to know each of them and seeing how people go about their normal days in another country. Getting used to Spanish culture was difficult at first but right now I consider this my home and have completely adapted to life here. The rush of being in a new country went away after about three or so months and I am usually in a neutral state. The food here is a lot different than I thought. They don’t use a lot of spice and if I do want something spicy I have to look really hard for it. To be honest, I prefer food in the United States more but I know I’ll miss the food here when I leave. I have met some really great friends while I’ve been here and have improved my friendship with Bradley and JC, also students from district 6970, so much. We talk to each other every day and give support if one of us needs it. I still have about three months left here and I have mixed feelings about going back home. On one hand I am super excited to see my family and friends but on the other I know I won’t be back in Catalonia for a while and I will miss it a lot. All in all I am extremely happy that I made the decision to study abroad and I want to thank rotary for giving me the chance to do so. I think that district 6970 is full of amazing people who really care about the students. I also want to give a special thank you to Ms. Paula, Jeff Hart, Larry DiPietro, and Abbie Bernet. You guys have done so much to help me the past year and a half and I am extremely grateful for all the time and energy you spent on helping us be the best students we could be. I am looking forward to thanking you in person once I get back!

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