With only twelve days left of this semester, a lot of things are coming to an end. For many, the end of the semester abroad means coming out of the relatively stress free abroad-bubble – with amazing experiences in abundance but a tranquil sense of impermanence. It means going back into the real world and having to think about graduation requirements and housing and a myriad of other logistical and stressful things. I’m lucky, because not only has this semester been less of a bubble and more of a wide-open plain of real possibility, but the end of this semester is not the end of my Study Abroad experience or my time in Madrid. That said, this specific experience – this semester, with these people and these classes is essentially over. My relationships with students on the program will inevitably change, there will be professors who I may only see by chance in the program center, and there will never again be nights out with the same rowdy crowd in the same bars, terrazas, or discotecas. Even though I may have similar moments next semester with different people, or similar moments with the same people in different places next year – Fall semester will end. Goodbyes are hard, because the way I see them, they’re incredibly permanent. But personally, I think the concreteness of goodbyes is what keeps the memories intact, knowing that I will never be able to go back to that time in my life in that city with those people, makes me cherish those moments and the memories of them so much more.
Even though a lot of things are coming to a close there is one element of my Fall semester that will carry on through the December break and the Spring semester – my Is Spain Different internship. This internship, is advertised (probably accurately, but I can’t say) on the website as being an internship with Professor Lobera, whereby the student acts as a research assistant for current sociological research projects at the Autónoma. Though this may have been the experience of other students, it should be noted, that the name and description of said internship did not entirely match up to what my internship actually entails. Though I started out as a research assistant reading and summarizing scholarly articles on Islamophobia in Europe, my internship evolved into co-writing an academic article with Professor Lobera that we will hopefully end up submitting to be published in academic journals. This was absolutely not what I expected from the internship but I am so grateful for the opportunity and it definitely turned out for the best. If I was ‘surprised’ by this turn of events I don’t even have the words to describe my shock at the fact that my so called “Is Spain Different” internship turned into me researching the current #ThisFlag movement currently active in Zimbabwe.
I am so grateful to Professor Lobera for being interested in this topic and for seeing the potential for this article to be written. I think that his openness and willingness to modify the parameters of my internship to adhere closely to my interests and “expertise” (lol) say a lot about the possibilities for this internship – as such I would strongly recommend it to any interested student. It has been a fascinating experience researching and writing about my “home” country while in Spain. The articles on the sociology of social movements that Prof. Lobera has given me to read have been equally eye opening and served as new tools and frameworks for me to look at the situation in Zimbabwe through. At the same time the glaring eurocentrism of academia has created numerous opportunities for discussion and critique that have been welcomed and encouraged.
In this moment, I’m looking forward to the end of the semester. It’s not anything against Madrid, but it’s more of the inevitable desire to escape responsibility and the awful time that is finals period. Even though, my internship got put on the backburner while I was in Morocco (!!!!!) and then had to write a lot of Spanish words and study more Spanish things – I am not looking forward to the end of my internship. Thankfully, in case I haven’t said it enough, this ending and many other goodbyes will be put on hold for another semester. I still don’t want to imagine saying goodbye to this amazing experience and this amazing city even if that goodbye is a long way away.
~Thanks for reading and happy holidays~