EMILY FRITZSON- Since arriving in Europe in January, I have traveled to six countries outside of Spain. I have been blessed with the means necessary to travel to all these wonderful locations, and I am beyond grateful for this rare opportunity. I’ve done things that I never thought I would: I tried Ethiopian food in Paris, had a fish pedicure in Prague, and rode a camel in Morocco. But in planning these trips at the beginning of the semester, I failed to keep in mind just how exhausting it can be to travel so frequently. I arrived in Spain knowing that I wanted to travel within Europe. That’s part of the reason I chose to study in Spain. But I definitely think I went a little overboard. It’s the beginning of April and I haven’t had a weekend in Madrid since early February.
Don’t get me wrong– I have loved each and every one of my trips in different capacities. And I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, because I am abundantly appreciative and glad that I have gone where I’ve gone. I’d just like to point out what is often overlooked: planning out where you’ll stay, how you’ll get there, and what you’ll do when you get there to make the most of your time can be time-consuming and stressful, especially when it’s back-to-back weekends (and especially as someone who is used to their parents doing all this for them). I have been leaving Madrid on Thursday evenings and arriving back Sunday evenings, which makes my Monday through Thursdays super busy with homework, classes, social life and preparing for my next journey.
The trips themselves have also been exhausting in a wonderful way. Site seeing in big cities like Paris entails a lot of walking and very long days. You have to always think about luggage and directions and tickets and timing and money. It’s definitely not a vacation.
But I have also learned a lot from traveling outside of Spain. I have had to become independent in ways that I’ve never been before since I have always traveled with my family prior to my departure in January. I’m not consulting my parents before booking plane or train tickets. I am staying in hostels and AirBnBs, neither of which I had ever experienced before. But it gives me a newfound appreciation for the time and effort that my parents have always put into planning our wonderful vacations. And I will now greatly cherish hotels!
So although I have one last international trip to Dublin planned, I have no other trips planned until I head back to the U.S. in five weeks. And I am so looking forward to my time in Madrid, because when you travel as much as I have, you feel as though you aren’t truly experiencing Madrid anymore. I want to get back to finding cool restaurants and exploring different areas of the city without worrying about the time or where I need to be next. I want to check out exhibits in museums and doodle in cafes. I want to feel like a local in Madrid, rather than just a visitor who stays here for four nights a week. I can’t wait for my Mom to arrive in early May to show her my world in Madrid before we head back to Maine together. And more than anything, I’m so excited to close out my semester in Spain in Spain.