Saying goodbye and traveling back home
In the past I had traveled, returned home and then said I felt homesick for the place I had been. Little did I know, that was nothing compared to what I am experiencing after leaving Valladolid, Spain. My name is Sydney Gleason; I am a student at Jamestown Community College. I recently was fortunate enough to travel to Valladolid, Spain where I lived with a wonderful family and taught English at an academy nearby.
I was brought home after nearly two and a half months as a result of COVID-19. While I was there I learned daily through listening to my host family speak at what seemed like x100 speed. By the end of my stay I could add to conversation and laughed as my sisters would banter about who would be in more trouble.
When I was getting ready to say goodbye there were some things I knew for sure I was going to miss: my sisters, my goofy yet loving host dad, and always sweet host mom. Every time I share stories with my friends and family back home, I feel an ache in my heart and some tears in my eyes as I reminisce and laugh at the memories made. What I didn’t know was all of the things I took for granted when I was there; the fresh and healthy food daily, the ability to walk and clear my head, and the sweet little faces of the kids I was able to help teach week after week. While I am not majoring in teaching, this did help me to expand in ways I could only dream. I worked on and created my own lesson plans that were based on music (my major) and helped to teach not only vocabulary with the kids but part of our culture.
Memories of my wonderful host family
I have been home just shy of a month and daily I think of my wonderful family and how much they mean to me. One of my family horses is due to have a foal soon and our tentative name is that of my host dad. They had such a great and positive effect on my stay there and I am awaiting the day I can go back to visit them. When I was packing, my sisters joked that I should stash my clothes and pack them in my large suitcases because all three of us were dreading not seeing each other everyday. I laugh thinking of the memories I made with them.
I had secretly been picking up on Spanish the whole time I was there but rarely spoke it because it was hard for me to switch back and forth. One day while we were eating lunch my dad was jokingly telling me I should be using my time to learn Spanish; the look of shock on his face when I told him I was, I just hadn’t been putting it into practice IN SPANISH was a moment I am not sure I will ever forget. Teaching my family card games also proved to be a hilarious and difficult process, but the sound of laughter is one I will never forget. They took me to all of the nearby villages to see things I had learned about for years. For example we went to one castle that held pieces of Columbus’ travels when he discovered the Americas.
Reflecting on the past and future
Being in quarantine has made me take a look at all of the things in my life that I appreciate and what I want to get back to when the world is safe to reopen; Spain is definitely one of the places I want to return to post COVID-19. I thought the whole experience may be a different one since I was moving in with complete strangers and knew only the Spanish I learned in high school, but it was an opportunity of a lifetime that I will never forget. Time never slowed down. Hopefully the period of waiting to go back flies by just as quick as my time spent there.
About this post’s author:
Hello, I’m Sydney Gleason, a freshman at Jamestown Community College. I am in the Music Industry program and love to travel. In the future I hope to see more of the world and help produce music, which is so close to my heart.