WORLD CUP – WE DANCED IN THE FOUNTAIN
I looked back at my mom while I descended the stairs to meet with my group and could see the tears in her eyes. She probably knew more than I did in that moment that her baby girl would come home a different person with memories that would last a lifetime. I waived goodbye and turned to meet my group for my summer adventure with Student Voyage where I would live with a family in Sevilla, Spain. As excited as I was, I don’t think I even realized at that time that I was about to plunge into the most memorable growing experience of my life.
There were 30 of us in the group with 2 advisors. Our fist night was getting to know each other and what we would be experiencing in the next 4 weeks. Thankfully we had cell phones to contact home since that first night I was hit with food poisoning and my strength and confidence waivered at being so sick and so far from home. Luckily it didn’t last and we headed for Sevilla from Madrid.
I was placed with a wild and wonderful girl named Stephanie and we were paired with a single working senora named Maria Jose. She never let us call her by the title senora, and insisted that we call her Maria Jose…nothing different. She helped us with our Spanish homework and taught us about the culture of Spain. She made us the most delicious food, and made us eat every single bite; wasting was a sin in Spain. She was so kind to us both, and took care of us like we were her own children.
I am what most would call a “good girl” with a strong Christian faith. There were those in my group that shared my views and those that were off the charts the exact opposite. There were a group of boys we called the Miami boys. All of the girls had a secret crush on them because they were the “bad boys” in the group. It was endless fun with all of us hanging out together almost every minute of the day. Since there were so few of us, we all got really close and had an amazing time whether we were at the beach, a restaurant, a club, or at school.
Living in Europe was an amazing new world for me and I wrapped myself up in the sights and smells and differences that I encountered every day. I created a bond with the group I came to know that will last a lifetime. Rather than the slow paced world of the bubble city where I come from, we lived the night life of Spain, the ultra generous 3 a.m. curfews, the hookah bars and flamenco dancers. We embraced shopping and site seeing and learned about what made each of us who we are and many of us experienced our first drinks at a bar. My morals were still very much a part of me but with the help of this new adventure and the crazy new roommate I lived with and a whole myriad of personalities. I learned that I didn’t have to lose the core of who I was to let loose from my shell. After a fun filled night and a romantic walk back to my apartment, I received my first kiss. How many people can say they experienced their first kiss on a beautiful warm star filled night in Spain? Absolutely unforgettable if you ask me. J
On weekends we took different excursions, such as Portugal and the Rock of Gibraltar and horseback riding on the beach. We went surfing and jumped off cliffs and swam in the Mediterranean Sea. Every day and every night was a new adventure. Stephanie and I would slip in while our Senora was asleep, giggling while we tiptoed in and sat and ran through the escapades of that day.
Then came the most unexpected blow out experience of them all. SPAIN WON THE WORLD CUP. The country was wild, and there we all were, a part of history. The streets were crazy with people hugging and kissing anyone that was in their reach. It didn’t matter that we were Americans in Spain. We were accepted and thrown in the mix of a celebration. We were swept up in the excitement and danced in the fountains and I have never felt so alive and a part of something so unbelievable in my life.
And then it was time for all of us to say goodbye. We took the bus trip back to Madrid with mixed feelings and everyone could feel the gray cloud hanging above us. The friendships that we had made and the bond that we felt for each other was something we would all carry with us. Everyone should be as lucky as I have been to be able to travel to Spain and the cities beyond, visit a hookah bar and laugh until their eyes water, cultivate friendships that will last forever in their minds even if they aren’t fortunate to cross paths again and the most poignant memory of all?? Dancing in the fountain.
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