By Jade Jessurun
Goodbyes are never easy, and though many people say they are bittersweet moments, often times they are more bitter than sweet. Growing a strong and solid relationship with your host family can certainly be a prime example of bitter being superior. Julia was my host mother for the past seven days in Alicante. To many, seven days seems quite brief, but it was just enough to develop an intimate relationship. Julia has welcomed me and my roommate, Darlene, with open arms into her home. Although that alone can speak volumes about one’s character, it was her generosity that defined my experience in Alicante.
From the moment Darlene and I stepped foot into her home, the term “study abroad students” stayed on her doorsteps. She treated us as if we were her own kids, which can easily explain the motherly love we have received from Julia. From fresh clean towels, to daily home cooked meals, three times a day, she wanted us to experience the raw culture of Spaniards. I am confident that no restaurant could have compared to her mastery of cooking. We have received authentic foods of Alicante, as well as Spain in general. Being the foodie that I personally am, the best way to get to MY heart is indeed through my stomach. This was easily achieved by the first meal, on the first day.
Language barriers were present between Julia and I, but luckily Darlene, who is a native Spanish speaker, was able to ease the flow of communication between me and Julia’s family. Reflecting on the communication process, as high as the barrier may have been between Julia and I, I have discerned that vocal expressions were not necessary. Our daily hugs and kisses on the cheeks spoke higher volumes of our relationship than words could ever express. Love can be felt and expressed in several different ways, but with Julia, I felt it and noticed it in many forms. For that, I will always be thankful.
Aside from the family cultural immersion, I want to spend time detailing about the scenery in Spain. To say it is beautiful would be selling it short. From the ocean on one side, the city on another, and mountains incorporated in the background, driving back from Alicante to Barcelona today, this is exactly what I observed. Scenery. It can clear your head, fulfill your heart, and make you appreciate the smallest things in life. The right scenery can make you realize how small your problems are and how to value bliss and tranquility. While many people sleep on the scenic and beautiful ride back, I try to do the same. But I can’t. I simply can’t because of the beauty that is present right outside my window. It is a perfect opportunity to forget about life stressors, and to simply reflect on recent experiences.
As our study abroad experience is slowly, but surely, coming to an end, we spent tonight in the beautiful downtown area of Las Ramblas. With the streets full of people, locals trying to sell the tourists items, and live musicians attempting to earn spare change with their talents, I remembered: this is where it all started. 11 days ago, we were all staring at the stores and buildings in awe. Today, we knew exactly where we were, how to navigate the streets as if we were locals, and fulfilling our nostalgic memories. Spain has offered so many cultural immersion opportunities, educational opportunities, and enjoyable experiences as well. Until the day that we can all come back to visit Spain again, especially Alicante, it is hasta luego for now.