I’ve spent the last few days trying to figure out what else I have left to do here in Granada. I’ve made list upon list and scribbled through countless pages of my tiny pocket-sized moleskin that I keep with me everywhere I go. Conscious of time flying by and my eventual departure nearing with each minute, I’m scrambling to make sure I’ve fulfilled all that I want to do.
A week from yesterday (Friday), I will have finished all but one of my exams. A week from today, Saturday, my Mom and my sister Natalie will be here in Granada. A few days later my other sister Angela will arrive and shortly thereafter we will all leave Granada. When we leave, so will most of the Americans that I’ve been studying with will all semester, as they plan to go up to Madrid to catch their flights back home. Meanwhile I will travel to a few other cities here in Andalucía and on into Portugal over Christmas, finishing in Madrid. All told, I have about a week and a half left here before my program is formally over.
Knowing this, I feel quite bittersweet. I’ve been here in Spain for quite a long time and as a consequence, much has happened. I’ve seen so much, shared many a laugh and had a great time. I’ve also had my share of challenges, too. The language barrier is a lot bigger than most people think, and with that so are a lot of the cultural norms that I’ve encountered, too.
Of course, I am looking forward to my return to the States- to see my family (unfortunately my Dad won’t be able to join us on our Christmas travels), my friends, my dogs, and to return to my more serious studies. In addition to my lists of things to do before I go home, I also have several things that I’ve not been able to replicate here, which I’m eager to resume back home (such as playing euchre with some of my greatest friends and kicking their asses. Kidding! Although it sometimes does happen…) and also things that I want to share with people about Spain. I want to have tapas parties, to teach people how to make sangria or tinto de verano, to use some of the Spanish colloquialisms that I’ve used, and many other things.
So much learning has happened and there is so much that I’m incredibly grateful for. I like to think that, as a writer, I have a pretty solid command of the English language but I still struggle at times to find a set of words that could even remotely portray the profound sense of gratitude that I feel for this opportunity. The chance to put yourself in an entirely new culture, to expose yourself to new and often challenging experiences while also trusting that you will learn something is truly special. It’s an opportunity that does not go ignored in this world, and it’s an opportunity that should be taken advantage of.
While I’m certainly feeling ready to go home, but reluctant to leave the lifestyle I have picked up here, time does not stop. Looking back through my photos, I realize in a tangible way how much I’ve done and seen. When flipping through my journal to find the end of my last entry, my fingers brush through page upon page on which I’ve scribbled my thoughts and anecdotes, those little particles of memories that I will look back at many years from now. A lot has happened, and for this I’m content.
I have a week and a half left, and there is still plenty of time to embrace my experience here in Granada before I leave with my family. Tons of time to share final laughs with friends, rolling eyes at corny statements, having a beer and watching a soccer match while soaking up this place and time. I wrote an earlier entry at the end of October about the sands of time and how the best way to adjust to time’s continuity is to reach down and pick up a handful of sand, for it’s those grains of sand that will remain with you for a lifetime. (I know it’s corny, but it’s true!)
I’m happy to say that right now, I can feel that little handful of sand in my pocket, and it’s a lot more sand than I would’ve anticipated.