After spending three months in Valladolid, Spain, and visiting many other beautiful locations, it really came as a surprise when I realized that my time working at the International Immersion Institute and living in Valladolid was rapidly approaching its end. It didn’t seem possible; I still have so many things I want to to see and accomplish in Spain.
When I arrived, the thought of being in Spain for three entire months seemed like more than enough time to see and do everything I could dream of. But as I prepared to leave, I found myself looking at the items on my list that were still undone, and (like many others before me, I’m sure) I wondered where the time could have gone.
I do believe that I achieved my goals. I came to Spain hoping to gain a greater understanding of the people, and what it is like to live and work in another country. Another incentive was to improve my fluency in Spanish, and before I left, I was pleased to have been told by some of my friends and colleagues in Valladolid that my Spanish had indeed improved. Most important to me is the fact that I no longer feel awkward when I attempt to communicate with others in Spanish, despite my realization that I have far to go in mastering the language. And although I ran out of time before I could experience everything I hoped to do, I also had many unexpected surprises and found myself truly overwhelmed by the generosity of the Spanish people I met and by the richness of the architecture, culture and natural beauty to be found in this wonderfully diverse country.
Saying goodbye to colleagues, students and friends was harder than I had imagined. If several people hadn’t told me that I would be welcome to visit them any time I come back to Spain, I honestly don’t know if I could have gotten on the plane. I love my host family, and was incredibly touched when my hostess, Rosa, made my favorite Spanish foods during the last few days I spent living with them. One of the first things I’ve done to alleviate my “homesickness” for Spain has been to try to duplicate the wonderful Tortilla de Patata, and some of the other dishes that I enjoyed so much there. Spanish food is great.
Rosa and her husband, Patchi, were more than generous with their time, and clearly enjoyed sharing the sights of Valladolid and the surrounding countryside. They also brought me with them on vacation to their beach home in Suances, a seaside resort on the northern coast of Spain. Their two delightful daughters, 12-year-old Candela and her 8-year-old sister Jimena were the highlights of my time in Spain, and made me feel welcome during the time they shared their home with me. These beautiful girls are bright, creative and totally charming–with just the right amount of mischief thrown in. I loved getting to know them, and learned so much from them. I wish I could have taken them home with me. I think I miss them most of all.
Of course, I am happy to be returning home to my husband, and look forward to sharing stories, recipes, and photos with family and friends. I plan to continue improving my Spanish language skills by taking more classes at JCC, building on what I learned in Spain. I have lots of work waiting for me at home, getting caught up on all the projects I left behind, and getting reacquainted with my pets.
And, of course, it’s never too soon to start saving up for my next trip back to Spain!