In 8th grade I was that kid who would leave my parents for about 3 days, having had enough freedom and adventure, and come back home as quickly as possible. But that completely changed when my mom convinced me to sign up for an exchange program to Spain through my school. Considering my lack of Spanish skills and my infrequent travel without my parents I couldn’t imagine leaving the country, to stay with a family who I couldn’t even communicate with. Fast forward 6 months and I left my mom at the airport, crying and regretting my decision instantly.
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Arriving in Spain, I was a jumbled ball of emotions. I met my Spanish family, hoped in their car and began my journey, leaving my friends behind to do the same. Being an over observant kid with a mind filled with what if’s, I began to panic as my suburban mind entered the seemingly sketchy city of Madrid. I remember looking at all the graffiti and thinking I was entering Madrid’s version of Detroit. I arrived at my family’s apartment and put my stuff in my room, already beginning to use the little Spanish my eight grade mind could think of. Simply put I could describe my house, school, and appearance, that’s about all. We sat down for dinner that night and I’ve never felt so uncomfortable in my life, the awkward silences, the obvious Spanish gossip that I couldn’t understand. That night I skyped my parents sobbing that I wanted to come home and this continued for the next three nights. My fellow Americans would brag of how much fun they were having and I didn’t understand what was wrong with me, why I wasn’t as thrilled as they were.
By the second week I began to get used to the routine, the Spanish, and the city lifestyle I have never known. I was instantly hooked, a kid who tried chocolate for the first time. My three hour skype calls home turned into a half hour ones and my imagination ran wild with the thoughts of independence and adventure. I fell in love with the realization of how small the world now seemed. Madrid became more than a dot on a map, but a place I consider my second home.
I came back to New York with a completely new perspective of life. My parents were shocked with my new passion for different cultures and my drive to seek out new adventures,. Spain completely changed my life, and I’m not just saying that for exaggeration. From the day I came home until the day I wrote this blog I have traveled back to Spain for a month, took a 23 day trip to the South Pacific, and then took a three week trip to Europe exploring a total of 12 different countries in the past 3 years. My parents went from receiving 3 hour skype calls to a short text every couple of days. I am completely addicted to travel now, one of the most expensive hobbies a person can have. Trust me, the expense is a whole another story; coming from a middle class hardworking family, my parents were not willing to dish out thousands of dollars every year just to satisfy my sweet tooth for travel. So to feed my new ambition I got two jobs, started a cookie business, and had far too many garage sales to pay over $15,000 dollars of hard earned money to experience the world. Honestly I would pay any price to meet the people I have, see the things I saw, and live in the constant face of adventure.
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