"I am a lady in Spain(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EcWlBniRvFY -- in case you are interested in listening to the song.)
I'll sing a haunting refrain
I am a lady from Mars
And I can unscrew the stars
I can be anything that I see
I can do anything I want, anything my heart tells me to do."
The lyrics are appealing for the obvious reason, they talk about being a lady in Spain. It also applies to my life because of the line which says "I can do anything that I want, anything my heart tells me to do." I never thought that I would be studying abroad as a sophomore in high school. I've always hoped to achieve something important, to do something special with my life other than just high school, graduate, college, graduate, career, die. I'm getting a head start with these aspirations and hopefully I'll really have the chance to discover who I am and what exactly it is that I'm looking to accomplish. So in two weeks I will be living in Barcelona, Spain, separated from my friends and family in York, Pennsylvania by 4,000 miles. People keep asking me if I'm scared and strangely enough, I'm not. Maybe it just hasn't set in yet that I'm really leaving for a year, maybe it won't set in till the moment I step onto the airplane and realize there's no turning back. There's no way to put this that won't sound cheesy but there's no room for fear inside of me because I'm filled with excitement.
One of the most frequently asked questions when I tell people that I'm studying abroad is "do you even speak Spanish?" When I answer no, everyone is really shocked and implies through facial expression that I won't be able to succeed just because I don't speak the language. Let me throw something else at you (a fun fact, if you wish) - Barcelona is in a region of Spain called Catalonia, where they not only speak Spanish, but another language called Catalan. So in addition to not knowing how to speak Spanish, I know not one word of Catalan. The language barrier will probably be an issue at first, and knowing me I'm going to get ridiculously frustrated with my inability to converse and make friends and be funny, but according to AFS I will learn and adapt. Actually, the language barrier has already put me into quite a sticky situation. This summer, a group of fifteen exchange students from Spain visited the United States. They took English classes and I was one of their assistant teachers. One day while we were in the car on the way to Gettysburg, I decided to try and communicate with one of the boys in Spanish. I rehearsed the conversation in my head. I would say to him "estoy" (meaning "I am") and then caliente (meaning "hot"). Estoy caliente, I am hot. What could go wrong? So I pretend fanned myself to try and express body language in case my accent was that horrible that he still wouldn't understand. I sighed and said, "estoy caliente!" He immediately froze and put his hand to his forehead and looked really awkward/uncomfortable. He clicked his tongue and said to me, "When in Spain, never say it..." and turned toward the window. I wondered what I did wrong while another student, a girl, informed me that I had just told him that I was horny. Apparently "estoy caliente" means "I am hot for you." Just a little tip in case you ever plan on traveling to Spain.
I am probably the luckiest person in the world. My host family placement is perfect. I'm barely exaggerating when I say perfect. I will be living in an apartment with a mother, father, and two sisters named Celia and Julia. I have been able to communicate with them via e-mail and Facebook, and have been lucky enough that they speak English very well. I talk to Celia the most frequently because we are the closest in age. Actually, you might want to sit down before reading this part because you will probably stand back up in shock... Celia and I are the same age AND we have the exact same birthday. I KNOW, CRAZY RIGHT. I can tell that we will get along, and that this family is full of really amazing, nice people. They have already made me feel welcome into their home and we haven't even met yet. I couldn't be more grateful.
Another question I get asked a lot is "aren't you going to miss everyone here like your friends and family?" Of course I will. It's going to be really hard not seeing everyone for a whole year. I've already started saying my goodbyes and it's been sad. One goodbye with one of my best friends who left early for college was particularly depressing, I cried more than I had expected. There are so many more goodbyes to come which I don't look forward to, including one with a group of friends I have spent the whole summer with and another best friend who has been amazingly supportive of me. I don't think I'm sad that I'm leaving them for so long because I know I will see them again. I think the sad part is knowing that things will never really be the same. I'm going to change, they're going to change, I'm going to miss out on a full year of changing and come back to people who may not even seem like the same people. I probably won't seem like the same to them either. I really do think it's worth it though and I plan to recreate myself into a better person. On a lighter note, is there really a better way to say goodbye than with a party? If you answered "yes" then sorry, you're wrong. On Saturday, I had a huge sweet sixteen/goodbye party masquerade where 200 friends and family members came to celebrate my early birthday and for many, to say goodbye one last time. It was a really bittersweet celebration and I surprised myself at how emotional I became toward the end. I've never been good with goodbyes and I dread the moment where I will have to say goodbye to my mother, brother, and sister. I couldn't have asked for a better night. The last song the DJ played was Journey's "Don't Stop Believin" and everyone swayed in a circle around me while I danced like a fool in the center. One of my friends came toward me for a hug, and then everyone slowly moved toward me and gathered for the biggest, most love-filled group hug I'd ever experienced. It was a perfect night.
Here's the thing they fail to tell you about being an exchange student; it's unbelievably difficult. Unfortunately I learned about the program and scholarship much later than most and found myself extremely pressed for time. On top of school, music, and all of the other activities I participate in, I was meeting deadline after deadline for mailing purposes, completing paperwork that's probably meant for a 40 year old business man, and retrieving notaries and apostilles left and right. If I could sum up Spain's required visa process in one word I would choose the word heinous. I guess that doesn't really make sense but it's the first word that comes to my mind. It was absolutely horrible. I do feel really smart now though, knowing that I basically did the whole thing without any help. After several breakdowns and a suspenseful trip to the Spanish Consulate in New York, I officially have my visa in my passport along with everything else that I need to go to Spain. No matter how frustrating and painful the process was, I would endure it a thousand more times to be at the place where I am now. I have never been happier or more excited in my entire life. I wake up every morning and have to remind myself that this is a reality, that this is really happening to me. September 5th cannot come any sooner...
ALSO there is a girl named Paige Rothfus and she lives in Amish county Lancaster 45ish minutes from me aka in the middle of nowhere and she is literally the best person in the world and we're best friends now and I love her. xoxo