LIZA LEONARD- Today in Madrid and in Alcala it is raining. It is raining at Atocha, at Vallecas, at Coslada, at every Renfe stop that I pass. It is raining a lot, the day is grey and cold, and everyone on the street is hiding under their umbrellas. Most tragically, it is raining enough for my rock climbing class to have been cancelled, and instead I am sitting inside writing emails.
Sometimes, days in Spain feel like normal days. More and more, now, my days here are feeling familiar. Every-so-often, like today, my days feel less exciting than they feel like at Tufts or at home. How can this be? I am in Europe, there is so much excitement all around me. It must be impossible to have a bland, rainy day in Europe!
One mindset that I think is easy to adopt as a college student abroad in Europe is to constantly to be looking forward to the next big thing. The next trip, the next weekend, the next night out. Always thinking ahead to traveling can distract me from what is happening day-to-day.
To me, what is exciting about being here in Spain is that I am changing, poco a poco, as my life here changes and builds rhythm. Even on days when it is raining, when my favorite activity has been cancelled, and I have to look at my computer screen for more hours than I would like, it is ok. Life abroad does not need to be perfect. I don’t always need to be on a glorious trip to some fabulous destination, and I don’t need to be looking forward to one to be happy, either.
I like treating abroad life like real life. There are good days, when I laugh at everything and throw my head back and smile into the sun and I also happen to be on the top of a mountain on a Spanish island. There are other days when I commute on the train and it is wet and rainy and I read my book and listen to tranquil music and chat with my host mom and the house is kind of dark and chilly and I wonder if I should go out and try to run but I decide not to.
I think I would be frustrated if I expected every day here to be thrilling. Today I am happy about how far I have come. I am happy that my Spanish has gotten better, that I have gotten closer to my friends I came on this program with, and that I have a lot of awesome experiences behind me and many more to come. I am happy about this normal, uneventful, wet and rainy day because I know that my adventures here are both big and small. It is an adventure just being here, and this day is a delight because I can make it one. I think I am going to go run in the rain now. Though it is a small leap out into the world compared to what I have already done this semester, I think it will feel good to turn this normal, real-world, shitty day into one that is a little more exciting.