The Real Truth

I have been living in Florence for about one week and let me tell you, it has not been easy.  You always see people’s study abroad pictures on Instagram and you hear amazing stories from their trip but something no one talks about is the feeling when you first step off the plane in a brand new foreign country.  I don’t want to scare anyone out of studying abroad because everyone should most definitely study abroad at some point in their college careers. I am just shining a light on the fact that study abroad isn’t always smiling and happy go luck travels.  Sometimes it’s scary and stressful and you get homesick, and that is something no one speaks about.  

However, there’s a reason no one speaks about it, not just because no one likes talking about the times when they felt defeated but also because studying abroad has so many more positives than negatives, you just have to make it through the first week to find out about it.  

They tell you all about culture shock before you leave New Paltz but for some reason, I thought that it wouldn’t happen to me.  Well, I was wrong. I was “culture shocked” from the moment the airplane landed in Italy. I desperately needed a coffee and when I went up to the coffee counter there was no menu.  People were just drinking out of ceramic cups on the counter…nothing like the Starbucks on campus. I asked for a normal coffee and I got an espresso that maybe took two sips to drink, and I had to pay with Euros!  

I’ll be the first to admit that I cried on the phone to my mom almost every night this week.  I was extremely jet-lagged but most of all scared. This was so out of my comfort zone and everyone was new to me.  The people studying abroad at Lorenzo de Medici are from all over the USA and some from other countries, so even my classmates are part of a different culture than I am.

However, I keep reminding myself just how lucky I am to be able to have this opportunity, and I know that once I get more comfortable here, this study abroad experience will become incredible and I will never want to leave.  

It has already been one week and life here is getting much better, I am fully adjusted to the time difference, and I have explored already so much of the city of Florence.  Florence is absolutely beautiful. In order for me to get to class or anywhere in the city center, I have to walk over a bridge with has an amazing view of the famous Ponte Vecchio.  Also, I have to walk past the Duomo to get to my classes which takes my breath away every time I see it.  

I am living in an apartment with 3 other girls studying abroad here.  None of us knew each other beforehand, so it’s really cool to get to know them.  Also, my apartment is so huge and decorated in an old Italian style. There are brick arches, Italian patterned tile, Italian books on the bookshelf, and paintings of religious figures. I have all of my belongings unpacked and it is already starting to feel like home.  

My transition to living in Italy was not as smooth as I thought it was going to be but that is okay.  Change is difficult and this was a huge change for me. Going to a foreign country not knowing anyone, not knowing the language, and not knowing the culture is so scary but, it is such a great learning experience.  

In just one week I have learned so much about myself and I am so proud of myself for embarking on this journey across the world.  

I can not wait to share the rest of my 4-month Italian journey with you guys! Ciao!

24 Hours Left…

Flight from New York to Rome, Train from Rome to Florence, Check-in at the University, get apartment keys and walk with my luggage to my apartment.  This is my travel itinerary that I keep repeating to myself as if I’m afraid I’m going to forget a step.  

Right now there are about 24 hours until I begin my journey to Florence, Italy to study abroad for the Spring 2020 semester.  I have never been outside the country besides driving to Canada a few times and going on a cruise to Bermuda when I was eight.  

I am full of so many mixed emotions, I am nervous yet so excited.  Some of my current worries that are on my mind are; Am I going to be able to make friends?  Am I going to be able to budget my money efficiently or am I going to run out of money and not do the things I want to do?  Am I going to stick out like an “American” too much with my horrible Italian skills and my non-mistaking Long Island accent?  Am I going to get really homesick? These are all questions that are spiraling through my mind as I pack the last of my things.    

However, not all of my thoughts are worries, I have been preparing and researching a lot for this and I can not wait to experience everything Itlay has to offer me.  I am most excited about all the traveling I will be doing. I have always had a sense of wanderlust but I never really had the opportunity to travel before this.  

When I’m studying abroad I want to take advantage of it all.  Go on as many weekend trips as I can, see things that I may never be able to see again, and eat as many new foods as possible.  Thankfully I have a ton of friends and family that have traveled to Italy before me and they all recommended so many restaurants and foods to try.  When I say I have a lot of recommendations, I mean I have a ten-page typed list of places to try, there are so many places on my list that even though I will be living in Florence for a whole semester I am not going to have the time to try them all.  

Even before I got to Florence I learned that the culture is very different than New York.  I have been a New Yorker my entire life and that being said, I live a pretty fast-paced life and always plan things months in advance.  At New Paltz, we get our schedule for the next semester and our On-Campus housing arrangements before we even finish the current semester.  

At Lorenzo de’ Medici, the Italian University I will be studying at, they do things a lot differently.  I got my schedule of classes about a month ago and I got my apartment location and the names of my three random roommates four days before arrival!  

Of course, as soon as I got my apartment address I looked up where it was on Google Maps and I toured the surrounding area using the ‘Google Maps Street View’.  My apartment is very old and beautiful and is attached to a Gelato place.  I can walk out of my front door and get fresh Gelato every single day. This will be so tempting but I’m sure after about a week of eating Gelato for breakfast, lunch, and dinner I will soon realize I need to maybe make it more of a treat item.  

Also, when I found out where my apartment was I messaged my friend from my hometown on Long Island who is currently studying in Florence through a different University, to see if we are going to live close to each other.  Turns out, we are living even closer than we do back home (and we live three blocks away), our apartments in Florence are literally 700 feet from each other! What a small world! Having someone there from back home definitely is making this huge transition a lot more comforting.  

I have been saying my goodbyes to my friends and family for weeks at this point, every time I’ve done something over winter break someone always found the opportunity to say “this is the last time we’ll…”  But, I just have to remind them and myself that this isn’t the “last time” I’ll ever see them, I’ll be home in approximately 3 and a half months. However, this is the longest amount of time I’ve ever been away from home and away from my family and friends. But, I’m glad that didn’t stop me from applying to this study abroad opportunity.  

This experience will most definitely make me step out of my comfort zone but I’m ready for it.  I can’t wait to make Florence, Itlay my new home across the globe.


The Land of Ice Chronicles: Final Chapter

It’s been about three months since I came back home from Ireland and a day hasn’t passed that I thank the lord I had the opportunity to go. I’m so happy with everything that I have learned. I have grown so much and learned to not let the small bad things affect me. It is ALWAYS better to look on the bright side of things.

I think we should walk the Earth every day as if we just arrived to it’s soil. It doesn’t matter if you’ve lived in NYC your whole life; act like your a tourist and I’m sure you’ll find something new you never knew existed. 

I say this because the truth is that we take for granted a lot of the great things that we have going on in our lives. [Take me as an example] I went to South Korea and fell in love with all of it’s wonders (I never ever was depressed or sad in the sparkling land). However, that left me feeling upset I did not live there. I began to hate the NYC subway and complained endlessly about how MY country was a trash can. I began to annoy all my friends because I was always BASHING the place they’d known to be amazing their entire lives. To be honest with you, I’d become a bitch who disliked everything that made her who she was, everything that even gave her the opportunity to go to South Korea in the first place.

Then I went to Ireland, and suddenly…. everything back in NYC was where all the hype was. I found myself missing the dirty old smelly subway. In the vein of honesty, the only that changed when I got the Ireland was the location. I was still just a bratty kid complaining and spreading negativity everywhere I went. And at some point…. all that negativity will come back and deck you square in the face.

And let me tell you from first-hand experience….that shit feeling you get when the negativity you’ve spread finally makes it’s way back to you is extremely painful and all-consuming.

So here’s a little trick I learned after I began my meditations in Ireland:

Whenever you start complaining or feel the urge to complain, splash some ice cold water in your face and come back to reality. There are people that are in worse situations than you are! Be grateful that you are still on the Earth alive and breathing. Go out for a walk and become one with all around you. Do what you gotta do.. just don’t be a dumbass like me and complain about things that you shouldn’t be complaining about. Take a shower, ya dumbass.


So to recap for everyone…..

My experience in Ireland was a life-changing one that needed to happen. Now, to answer some questions I know you may have:

Do I miss the easy academic courses? Yes

Do I miss the fun musical courses I took? Yes

Do I miss Ivon Roberts and his amazing soul? YES

Was Ireland an overall good experience? Yes

Would I go back there?

In the words of my wise and beautiful aunt… It is a good thing to have been there and learned that I could never live there. It is a good thing to know when my future man & I are ever thinking of re-locating to a different country. If he ever suggests Ireland, I’ll give him a strong NO. I think that countries with large amounts of sunlight are locations that I could move to and happily survive. Being in such a cold place has its perks but it just ain’t for me y’all. If you are dead-set on exploring Ireland though… I’d say to go in July and stay for a week. There isn’t much to do (in Limerick at least) so a week is enough to get everything you want to do done and have a fun experience. A 4 MONTH SEMESTER IS TOO LONG FOR THIS NYC GAL.

Long Story Short:





This has been “The Land of Ice Chronicles”.

I hope you enjoyed every minute of it. Thank you for listening.

This is Sammi signing off. I love each and every one of you

The Land of Ice Chronicles: Heading Home

(A quick sorry for the late updates; I’ve been busy here at home spending all my time with family & friends)

It is almost time to head home now and if I am being honest, I couldn’t be happier. This whole vacation has been a learning experience. It has been a pleasure to learn (even if it was THE HARD WAY) that negativity can bring your whole world crumbling down the same way that positivity can illuminate all of the darkness before you. It has been wonderful exploring the small town of Limerick these past few weeks. I’ve found beautiful flower beds, creatures, and greenery in places I walked by everyday and never noticed. Positivity really does open doors. It was a wonderful month of exploration BUT:

You can bet your ass I'm ready to go back home.

Like I said… it has been a great past month here. However, nothing beats the happiness one can obtain in the comfort of their own home. I’m excited to be home with my very best friend (my mom). I’m excited for my Abuela’s tasty food. I’m excited to hang out with my friends again. I’m excited for everything in NYC to be honest.

Now… Flash forward to my plane ride home

The plane is about to leave Shannon Airport and I am finding myself thinking about the boy with the pink and green aura. Just the thought of him dancing at the Stables Bar/Club bring a smile to my face and warmth to my heart. It just makes me so happy that Ivon came into my life. It is as if all the bath experiences I had in Ireland never happened; whenever I think of the lovely country… I think of his beautiful soul.

Listen to that voice. LISTEN! HE IS A LEGEND! (And, he just won a kpop talent competition. SUPPORT IVON! STAN IVON!

As the plane left Shannon Airport, I thought of how a piece of my heart would always be with Ivon. Thank you for everything that you do and everything that you are.

Fast Forward to arriving at JFK Airport

That flight felt like it lasted forever. I was slightly groggy but excited to see my mom. The minute I saw her, I dropped everything I was holding and threw myself on top of her. God, I missed her so much. I missed my mom so much. I felt so safe in her arms; I hadn’t felt this safe since the last time I saw her and I really missed the feeling. We headed to my Abuela’s house and has some delicious food. My entire family was also there to hug me and hear of my entire journey. It was one of those nights that I’ll never be able to forget. I love my crazy silly loud Spanish family and I’m really happy to be back with them.

Actually Being Home

Now that I am back home, studying abroad in Madrid, Spain truly feels like something out of a movie, out of a beautiful dream, out of a moving story. It’s a wild and wonderful part of my memory.

I have stories about me almost getting locked in the metro post closing time, and feeding pink flamingos at the Madrid zoo, and watching a bull fight– history unfold right in front of me as the youngest ‘Matador’ on Easter Sunday got the ears of the bull as a sign of honor, a job well-done.

It was and is unreal to say that Madrid, Spain (in Europe!) was my home.

I was expecting questions about my experience being abroad. I was expecting my family and friends to want to hear stories. I was expecting them to want to know more about my life there, about the people I met, the places I’ve been to, the best moments, the worst moments, the funniest moments, the foods I’ve eaten, the things I’ve seen that I can’t get enough of, the things that ticked me off, the things that I miss about there, the things that I have missed about here. I was expecting and wanting their curiosity.

I’m patiently waiting.

Though I cannot be too disappointed, I practically told them everything after it happened, as I was excited to tell my stories over FaceTime and Facebook posts.

Being back home is actually: a lot of chores. Dentist and doctor visits. Seeing family, friends. Dates. Getting accustomed to doing things with my family again, with their new jobs and changes of their own. Finding access to all my American TV shows, etc. It isn’t as slow-paced as I wanted it to be; but it is a good change of pace being able to just do things at home or near home, without feeling the need to explore the city, spend money, or plan something. There’s a certain kind of peace in just being home-bound.

I miss the metro in Madrid and the button I had to press to get in. I miss the cauliflower and Lipton soups I had before the main entree for dinner. I miss the Spanish language all around me in speech, music, and store signs. I already know and feel that I’m losing pronunciation, or forgetting how to conjugate certain verbs, or hesitating prior to speaking. I miss writing daily in a notebook in all stream of consciousness. I miss the confidence I had in being abroad. Being: sure of myself, of my Spanish, of my decisions– because I had no one else to count on but myself.

I’m glad that I’m back for Pepsi cans at bodegas, though the design on the can is different than when I last left. I’m glad I get to see my mom in her uniform as a 911 Operator. I’m glad I got the chance to see my little brother graduate 5th grade. I’m glad I got to check out the new white truck my dad recently bought. I’m glad I got to see my sister work her make-up magic on a prom client.

A different, or new-world view? Of course. I learned that there’s a beauty in being able to communicate in two different languages, learn an immense amount of vocabulary, and adapt to vocabulary and conversations dependent on people and places. Not everyone in the world is sympathetic about what Trump and his administration is doing to our country. Many people are amazed that I’m from America, from an island called Puerto Rico, from NYC, and even from the Bronx. Some people will enjoy your company. A few won’t. And a good friend in Madrid told me something I’ll never forget. It’s a conscious effort to remember that people here grow up super differently than you did. 

So with that, I vowed to listen better, to judge way less, to make a conscious effort to understand, and let go, because America is different than Spain. For better or for worse, and I chose to live somewhere different to learn about myself, this place, my home, and the world.

It was a conscious effort on my part to live the way Spaniards did to some extent, and my experience was much more memorable for it.

Instead of comparing Spain to America, I was immersing myself in Spain.

I was appreciating  America.

And I was grateful to and for both places I could call home.

Coming Home Part III: Airplane Ride Home

In hindsight, I actually felt sad. I dreamed about the day I’d go home, back to New York to see my family and friends. I thought I’d be so excited. But I also made new friends and a new family for myself in Madrid. So saying goodbye during my last week to all my favorite places with all my favorite people in the place we passed time together seemed and still seems oddly strange.

Now I know what my international friends at SUNY New Paltz go through, what Yuka and Holly went through—having to make a life for themselves somewhere, and then having to pack up and go back to their true home, too— all in what feels like a blink of an eye. I felt like I was letting a piece of me stay behind in Madrid. I felt like I was letting a part of me go, too. The people make the place. 

But Madrid in itself made Madrid my place.

I loved my 4 month-and -3-week routine. I loved the Spanish. I loved my Host Mom’s dinner and conversations. I loved the strolls to the city center with friends. I loved planning something every weekend even just to see a new neighborhood, or town, or check out something that locals and tourists alike always love like: the Spanish market on Sundays called “El Rastro,” or American brunch at this place called “Roll” in Malasaña, or one of the best views of Madrid on the 9th floor of the mall called “ El Cortes Ingles” in Gran Vía, or just meeting at 10 p.m. on Thursday nights to have my favorite drink called, ‘Tinto de Verano’ at 100 Montaditos for 1.5 euros to talk sugar honey iced tea and start the weekend.

So of course, saying bye to each friend who had a flight somewhere new or somewhere called home was sad. Or saying bye to the student teachers that would stay, or the family friends that would continue to live their lives in Madrid, because it is where they live, it is their life, was sad.

You’re heading onto the next chapter of your life, back to the place you’ve always called home, without all the people and places and experiences that made Madrid your new home. But you are bringing back to your home, your original home, the memories, the stories, the changes in you.

Saying bye to the host mom you’ve grown to love stung a little that week before you left, and still does even now. Triple hugs the day before you left and the day you did leave didn’t help keep the tears away.

Saying bye to your family friend, your “cousin,” Shakira, and her daughter Cindy at their family bar and right before they got on their bus home, was so hard. As many times as you told yourself you would try your best not to tear in front of them, in front of a crowd, the tears rolled down anyway.

And just like the beginning of your trip, every time you thought about saying goodbye to your family at the airport in JFK before leaving to Spain, you cried. And now, every time you think about having said bye to people you don’t know you’ll see again, stings a lot, too.

Every time you think about all your goodbyes in Madrid, it hurts. And so these goodbyes are constantly on your mind—in the uber ride to the airport in Madrid, in the airport in Madrid and Lisbon, on your flight home to New York on a Tap Portugal flight, and a little bit at any moment you think too hard about it.

And thinking about reuniting with your family also feels emotional, too. You tell yourself not to cry here either. But your body is tired and hungry and jet-lagged and anxious and happy, and your mind is sleepy and thinking and everywhere. So try not to worry too much about it. It’s okay. This reunion has been a long-time coming. Just remember you are bringing back to your home, your original home, the memories, the stories, the changes in you. And you can do your best to hold onto all of that for dear life. Forever. 

-Teary-eyed part II 

Goodbye Letter to Madrid

Dear Madrid,  

You became my home for 4 months and 3 weeks. From being like NYC minus all the skyscrapers, to seeing cathedrals on every corner, to hearing Castellano 24/7, to living on Calle de Padilla, you became Madrid, sweet Madrid. All these elements combined were signs from God that you’d be okay.  

Okay you were when you got lost going to school 3 times before classes actually started. Okay you were when you were told you had to take an extra course in Spanish to be a part of the Hispanic Studies Program. Okay you were after orientation didn’t give you any information you needed to know  on where and how your classes would function. Okay you were when your Host Mom, Asún, yelled at both you and your roommate for being late to dinner. Once. Okay you were when you got the worse grade ever on an exam for a language you’ve been studying 6+ years. Okay you were when you visited the doctor 3x all for different reasons with a bonus of an emergency visit post your trip to Morocco, Africa.  

And you learned that being okay with not being okay was and always will be part of being alone and feeling lonely in another country with no family or any of your closest friends. And that taking a nap was/is healthy. That eating sour candy at night before bed and after dinner at 9:15 p.m. is your happy place. And watching That 70’s Show and Full House before bed to make you go to bed on a high note was your way of identifying with your closest friends and dearest family from 2 different parts of the world-The United States and Australia.  

And you constantly reminded yourself that your Host Mom’s 3-course dinner, your dad’s 12:00p.m. call on lunch break, your sister’s Snap Chat messages, your Mom’s FaceTime calls, your brother stealing your sister’s phone to text you, your Great Grandma’s random dial-ins, your Grandma’s voice messages, your best friend’s weekly messages, your roommate texting you from a room away to see if you’ve gotten out of bed yet, What’s app calls going in and out with your family from Florida and Virgina, and your fiancées stunning photos from Melbourne, all made what you have had in Spain, beautiful and unique and wild and wonderful and nostalgic all at the same time.  

100 Montaditos became your low-cost drink spot. Tacos at Takos became your food spot. Starbucks 7-minutes away from your home became your study spot. HEMA became your buy-a-gift-here spot. Primark became your shop spot. Amourino became your gelato spot. Gran Vía became your favorite ‘dar un paseito’ spot. Usera became your go-to-your-friend’s-house spot. Buen Retiro became your favorite park spot.  

Your favorite playlists included Billie Eilish’s ‘Ocean Eyes,’ Spanish Guitar and Flamenco to think, write, and study. Danny Ocean’s ‘Dembow’ and ‘Me Rehúso’: to jam out, iron, clean and do your budget sheet to. ‘Te Amo,’ by Piso 21 and ‘Modelo’ by Ozuna ft. Cardi B was for fun. And even a Puerto Rican playlist by Gran Combo came to play, reminding you of your Great Grandpa, Papá, and Puerto Rico.

You stepped into Spain’s territory with goals. You had hoped to make Spaniard friends. You had hoped to eat amazing Spanish meals. You had hoped to travel all of Europe, and all of Spain, and even make a trip to visit your special someone in Australia. 

Instead, God gifted you with friends from Miami, Moldova, India, and back home. Your Host Mom blessed you with her version of white rice and lasañga and breaded-chicken because she knew those were your faves. You were lucky enough to travel to Morocco, Africa, experience a camel ride on the beach in Tangier, see The  Caves of Hercules in person, hike in the Blue City, and share a Moroccan-style meal with locals. You were able to see a whole lot of Spain, including a cute, quaint town, Toledo, an aqueduct and castle in Segovia, the monastery in El Escorial, the palace of Aranjuez, mountain climbing in Cercedilla with the magic of snow, the university of Alcalá de Henares, the most visited site in Spain, the almighty Alhambra in Granada, scientific, white, and futuristic architecture in Valencia, and The Cheetah Girls’ home in the stunning Barcelona. You got a chance to fly into Paris experiencing the ghetto, and ending with The Eiffel Tower. And of course, you’ve had the privilege of living in the capital of Spain, now one of your favorite cities in the world, Madrid. And though you didn’t get to meet your special someone halfway across the world, you met part of his family, here: Shakira and her kids, who have been living in Madrid for years, who has made your experience, even more like home.  

You will never forget your first time in front of the magically lit Royal Palace. Or your first introduction to your new favorite drink on your first full night in Spain— tinto de verano. Or your first time in Buen Retiro Park with the most beautiful guitar solo near the blue lake with a little blonde Spanish toddler dancing and applauding away. Or how you reacted to your first corrida de toros, or bullfight, after having had an older man, an ‘aficionado,’ a passionate fan, feed off your curiosity.  

You will remember how much you wanted to improve your Spanish for you, to speak with your family, to talk with your friends. And you’ve never been more proud of your heritage as a Boricua. And so you’ve cherished your new identity as an international student de afuera (from outside). And every time you tell someone you’re from the Bronx, New York they think of Cardi B. And every time you tell someone you’re from Puerto Rico, they say: “just like JLO right?”  

You finished your studies at the university in a town called Getafe. And though you didn’t fall in love with it the way you did with SUNY New Paltz, you cannot be more happy with the courses you’ve taken, the things you’ve learned, the work you’ve produced, the Spanish you’ve spoken, the professors you’ve met, and the friendships you’ve gained because of this place.  

You’ve learned that studying abroad was for you. You’ve learned to not hold everyone up to your standards. You’ve learned that so many people are always on your mind, even though you may not have been a thought in theirs. You’ve learned that your life isn’t the only one that has been passing by. You’ve learned how to and when to be selfish. And when to be selfless.  

You cannot believe this time has come to an end. 

Madrid, Spain, you’ve been a dream. You’ve been a reality. 

You’ve been everything at once: hurting, loving, healing, wilting, rising, and blooming —just like Rupi Kaur would say.  

You recognize that you will never get this time back —the exact way it was offered to you in the first place. And that as much as you want to come back, and say you will come back, and urge to come back, and have the means to come back, you don’t actually know if you’ll ever be back. But you hope and pray to God to come back a couple of more times with the people you love.  

You have little things of everyday in your journal. And you have footage to put it all together and rewind. You will never forget what a privilege it was to have once call Madrid, home. And are looking forward to the day you can say “hola,” to Madrid de nuevo. 

All the best,  



p.s. Madrid, sweet Madrid, thank you, forever. You gave me a newfound love for all that is dear, all that there is to want to share, and all that there is to want to know. Hasta la vista, baby.  

Returning to the US Part II: Thinking  About Home, The Future, and Saying Goodbye to this Home in Madrid 

There are so many questions that have been going through my mind as I prepare to come home everyday for the past month. Saying goodbye to a place I’ve been in for 4 months and 3 weeks seems unreal. Coming back home somehow feels unreal, too. Did time really go by this fast? How? How does time work like that? Why is it always the invisible monarchy in our lives? And if time went by fast for my me, life flew by for my family and friends, too. It’s like I have to make a new life for myself again. Or rather, try to pick up from where I left off. But last I left off, it was winter in NY, and I had just celebrated my 21st birthday. 

Now I’m thinking about what else to do in Madrid before I leave. I’m thinking about who to say goodbye to. I’m thinking about all the emails I want to send out as a thank you to my professors here who made university feel right. I’m thinking about what places I would like to see or what things I want to do again before leaving (including eating at TAKOS, getting drinks and sandwiches  at 100 Montaditos, maybe going to Ojalá cafe once more to finally sit on the sand, and watching the sunset at Buen Retiro once more). Maybe even checking out Sol at night where the palace is to listen to that beautiful chelo again. 

I’m wondering what exactly I will be doing this summer. When will I see my friends? What will my family think of me when I’m back? Will they tell me I’ve gained weight, look the same, or loss weight? What others questions will they ask me that they don’t already know? Will I be able to go out late and enjoy being an adult the way I’ve been doing abroad by myself for all the time without pushback from my parents? What will it be like to be with my fiancé again? When do we continue planning the wedding again? 

And jet lag? What about that? 

What else do I have to do when I’m back? Doctors’ appointment? Dentist? Spring Cleaning? 

Will anyone from abroad reach out to me? Will they think to think of me? Will my family and friends think to think of me when I’m back home? Will anyone make an effort to keep me in their minds? Will I do the same? 

Will I really be a senior after I take my last exam here? Am I ready to graduate next May around this time? Will I see my friends who graduated anytime soon? How will it be to see friends who were my friends abroad on campus? especially if we don’t really talk anymore and/or have grown apart even while abroad? 

What does the future look like for me post graduation? Even back at New Paltz? Will I be able to join WNPC-TV again as a reporter? Will I find a job? Will people remember me and want me back? How  will being a Student Activities Manager be once again, but this time, for a whole year? 

And really, how do I say goodbye to my friends here? The ones that will be in different parts of the US and Europe when we all return to the normal part of our lives? What is normal now? What will be the normal, rather? How do I say goodbye to my Host Mom, the one I’ve grown to care for? What exactly do I write in her card to say goodbye? How do I not cry? What will it be like to say bye to family friends who are here? My 2nd family? How do I not cry, then? 

What now? 

Uhh, Habla Inglés?

The best part about studying in the UK is that everyone here speaks English. Upon coming, I didn’t have to worry about saying something wrong or misunderstanding a native because we speak the language. It was one of the reasons I made the decision to study in London rather than a non-English speaking country. I’m not gonna lie, life is a lot easier when everyone speaks your language anyway. Especially when you’re an awkward person like me who gets nervous when they misunderstand anything and doesn’t want to ask the person to repeat themselves 5 times until i hear them correctly. So, what was it like to travel from a different English speaking country to a non-English speaking country, you ask?

I recently went to Barcelona, Spain to celebrate the end of finals. Wow, did I deserve a celebration. Essays upon essays using a citation format you’ve never used before and trying to incorporate theories you weren’t here to learn so you teach them to yourself wasn’t so easy. Therefore, I believed the sunny Barcelona beach and beautiful city sights was in the cards. The only difficult part of this trip was the fact that I don’t speak nor understand a lick of Spanish. Sure, I know the basic “hello,” “thank you,” and “where’s the bathroom,” but aside from that Spanish might as well be gibberish. I took Italian throughout middle and high school, why didn’t I plan a trip to Italy instead?

Thankfully, many people there spoke English. My friend (who also did not know any Spanish) and I really lucked out, however I did ask my good friend who is a Spanish major back at New Paltz how to say some key phrases. Shoutout to the lovely Erin, your phrases did indeed come in handy. For example, she told me “puedo ayudarme” means “can you help me,” which I hoped I wouldn’t really need to use unless I was asking for directions. My friend ended up fainting on the metro and that phrase helped me in that tricky situation. I probably wasn’t saying it correctly, considering I had no idea how to handle the situation, but strangers came to help before I even really started to get the words out. Spanish people are very nice and helpful.

Anyway, it was very different going to a country where English is not the first language. I’ve only ever visited English speaking countries, so this was a very cultural trip for me aside from being the most relaxed I was all semester. I didn’t feel as isolated as I thought I would since there were so many people who spoke English, but I almost wish that wasn’t the case so I could try to challenge and immerse myself more. As they say, what better way to learn a language that be surrounded by those who speak it, right?