Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost
Since before I can remember, I was told that I had a strong trait called wanderlust. When I was a little girl, learning about my great-grandmother’s Spanish heritage sparked my initial interest in the language and culture. I began speaking Spanish in 8th grade and from there on I knew that one day I had to travel to Spain. My family loves to travel, but with me being so young, my parents kept a tight grip on my independence. I never ventured too far, too long from my parents care until I entered high school and even then, I stayed in the States. Once I started Auburn University, a new found independence came upon me. I began a job at the local hospital and I moved out of my parents’ house. However mature I thought I had become, I still had a lot of growing up to do.
Before I left for Spain (which was the summer before my senior year at Auburn), I had many problems with myself. I didn’t know who I was and even though my grades stood strong, my priorities in life were completely skewed. The day I left for Spain was an emotional one – it would be my first time out of the country as well as my first time living away from my parents (I grew up in Auburn). During my 10-hour flight to Madrid, I was incredibly nervous for the next few weeks even though I already knew my roommate (she graduated high school with me) and had almost 6 years of Spanish classes under my belt. We landed and I took a bus to my destination: Salamanca, Spain. I met my host family who ended up being only a small old lady, but I instantly became attached to her. The other students on my trip became my “second family” as they were my rock throughout the entire experience. In the midst of traveling and constant socialization, I realized that something was changing about me. I would think back on what my great-grandmother called me – a girl with wanderlust. I was able to bring that persona of myself out and it felt like a weight had lifted off of me. Suddenly, the problems and unimportant things I had made “a big deal” in my life back home seemed so small.
During my trip, I did not get to travel outside of Spain, but the places that I did travel to besides Salamanca – Madrid, Toledo, Barcelona, and Santander – were different cultures within the country of Spain itself. I have never been much of an art guru, but the masterpieces in the Prado in Madrid and the mural of the Burial of the Count of Orgaz in Toledo helped me appreciate historical works. The cathedrals in Spain were my favorite places to see, especially the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. Barcelona is very different compared to the rest of Spain and the most of the famous architecture there, designed by Gaudí, exactly reflects the architect’s name. By the end of my trip, I had fallen so in love with the entire country of Spain that I did not want to endure the 11-hour flight back to the States. On my last day, I most certainly realized how much I would miss my host mom, Filomena, as she was my support the entire month that I spent in Spain.
My study abroad program to Spain ultimately help me realize how important my dreams and goals were to me. The experiences I had abroad have led to my realization that I will never be happy with the ordinary or the familiarity in life. I couldn’t be any more thankful for each and every person who contributed to my study abroad experience as it helped create the person that I am today – the person that I will continue to be.
— Brittany Wilton | Liberal Arts Summer Program in Salamanca, Spain, 2013