There are many things I could say about the first two days of my adventure in a foreign country. I could talk about how I barely made my flight from Paris to Madrid with 30 seconds to spare. I could relate how, from personal experience, I now have a firm testimony of the reality of jet lag. I could also tell you that I literally only understood three words my host family said that first day. But I have accepted the idea that travel and change in general is hard. With that in mind, I choose to focus on the little nuances that I have already found while exploring Spain.
The first full day in Spain began with an exam. I know. An exam that, for someone who was super jet lagged, was in the middle of the night. But soon after the experience, I found myself in the house that Miguel de Cervantes grew up in. I will attempt to not wax too poetic, but Cervantes understood a lot about himself and greater callings in life. One of the rooms in the house had a quote from Don Quijote on the wall that really resonated with me. It boldly declared: “Yo sé quién soy, y sé que puedo ser”. I know who I am, and I know what I can be. Self awareness is a trait that I think can be misunderstood and also underestimated. Knowing who oneself is a life long journey to be sure, but understanding what you can be takes a special kind of courage. For the past couple of months my life motto has been “Be unapologetically yourself and let everything work out from there”. Now this a fine line to walk, so let me explain. There is a difference between accepting oneself while allowing yourself to progress, and making excuses and justifying your weaknesses with the idea of “this is just the way I am”. I am only beginning to understand and learn who I am and the infinite possibilities of the future, but I do know that there is only power to be gained by becoming familiar with myself and the traits that hold me back. I can only hope to recognize and accept the knowledge as it comes! Who would of thought that nine simple words painted on a wall could open so many doors for self improvement and reflection?
Today we had our first opportunity to go into Madrid from Alcala, where we live. The main goals of the day had to do with orienting ourselves to the train and bus situation, and to get a glimpse into the city’s rhythm. First of all, Madrid is huge. It is a complex city with layers of history and districts upon districts of diversity. As an introvert, my favorite part of the journey was watching the people bustle about. I learned a lot about the types of people that are drawn to the city with is spacious plazas and shopping districts. I would be completely overwhelmed with how many things there are to see if I didn’t have three months to do so. Although I just got a small taste for how the city feels, I am looking forward to many trips into the city´s many waiting streets.