Today marks my third week in Alicante, Spain and what a journey it has been so far! Here in Alicante, I have been introduced to some wonderful people that have made my experience thus far all worthwhile.
Although I am from New York City, arguably the cultural melting pot of the world, I was a bit apprehensive about my decision to study abroad. My experience with working and living with such a diverse population and my growing fascination with world cultures has provoked me to take it a step further and continue my studies overseas. Though I am lucky enough to live in one of the world’s greatest cities, I have never had the opportunity to visit anywhere beyond the boundaries of the United States. For me, studying abroad would mean leaving my comfort zone to study in a strange place with unfamiliar people, all while speaking a foreign language. I was hoping I would love it but was definitely anxious about immersing myself in the culture.
Landing in Alicante after a long, tiring flight was so refreshing, as I was immediately welcomed with the most beautiful winter weather I had ever experienced: sunny, blue skies and an impressive temperature of 65 degrees Fahrenheit. I stepped outside and said to myself, “I think I’m going to like it here."
I soon arrived at the apartment building of my homestay family. I was greeted warmly at the door by my host mother and father with hugs and the customary kiss on each cheek. After welcoming me to my new home and finishing what felt like a five-course meal that my family prepared for my arrival, we retired to the living room where my host father pulled out his guitar and began to play some renditions of my favorite songs. Having attended a performing arts high school, I had discussed my love of music with Octavio. We shared an appreciation for a variety of artists, including: The Rolling Stones, Eagles, Led Zeppelin and The Beatles. It made me realize that even though we come from other sides of the world, we are a global community and we have more in common than we have different. Although there are certain cultural and language differences, my family has made me feel right at home.
With the excitement of being in our new home, my friends and I have taken every opportunity possible to explore the surrounding city of Alicante. We have enjoyed bike tours, trips to museums around the city and various excursions, from watching the sunset from the top of the Santa Bárbara Castle to a hike around Guadalest. My favorite experience so far has been the soccer game between Spain and the United States Women’s National Soccer Team at the Rico Perez Stadium. CIEE had given us the opportunity to cheer on our American team and have some of the best seats in the house while doing so. My friends and I were even featured in the local newspaper the following day! After our team had won the game, we decided to celebrate the victory in El Barrio, a neighborhood of Alicante, where we had met up and celebrated the victory with some of the players of the United States women’s national soccer team!
So far, I have made lifelong memories with the some of the most amazing people I’ve had the pleasure to meet. I look forward to traveling to various places throughout Spain and Europe with my new friends in the coming months. I’m excited to continue my study abroad journey and I can’t wait to share it with you!