This week in IFG, we started the meeting off on a positive note by recalling the things we are grateful for and the good things that have happened in the past week. This was a great reminder to uplift and calm ourselves when facing the challenges and difficulties of being abroad—particularly after the despairing week we’ve experienced following the elections.
This small task was more difficult that I would have expected. Of course there are so many things that I am grateful for, including mi madre madrileña’s constant kindness and generosity, the delicious cakes and brownies at La cocina de mi vecina, having the space to decompress the intense study abroad experience in IFG, my freedom of mobility and travel, the experience of being abroad, and ya know, of course my family, friends, and communities who support me through everything. I could really go on and on about the things I am grateful for. But, that wasn’t the challenge for me. The challenge was to recall the good things from the past week. I have found that while being abroad, the weeks go by so fast, but each day is so full of distinct moments, that they feel incredibly long. While I live through so many good and positive moments here, I sometimes allow myself to crowd them out with the more difficult and upsetting moments. Again, this exercise was critical after the past week of feeling distressed, upset, angry, and disinterested in doing a lot of more “trivial” things.
The reality is, life goes on and the fight for life goes on. After staring blankly in response to this prompt for longer than I’d care to admit, many distinct experiences in the past week rushed in and flooded my brain. Some of the things I talked about included the hike that I finally went on in Cercedilla (an hour ride on the train out of Madrid) with some friends from the program center, the new café I found upon the suggestion of a former student mi madre madrileña had hosted called Lolina’s Vintage Café, my community of peers planning to demonstrate from Madrid that Love Trumps Hate, and the new feature I found recently of Bedtime Stories (well they are technically called Sleep Stories) on the Calm.com app.*
I have realized that I while I typically try to put forth a positive attitude, I do have the propensity to let the less positive things weigh me down. In my last month here (yes, I have less than a month remaining abroad),** I am going to keep it more positive and allow myself the space to accept that I am human, and I gotta roll with the punches life throws me. As a friend of mine once said, “It ain’t travelin’ unless somethin’ doesn’t go as planned.” Instead, I will be striving to live it up in the last month I have here, and really get everything I can out of my semester abroad. These experiences, like all of my experiences, will weave themselves into the fabric that encapsulates who I am, expanding and deepening what I stand for and how I view the world. So let’s break out the bucket list; I’m ready to go!