Last weekend, two of my friends who are spending this semester in Granada came to visit me (shout out to Lila and Nadia). We trekked through the winding streets of the old quarter up to the castle, ate tapas in one of the tascas, and shared a few coffees. It was nice being the “local expert” for a day in my adopted home.
At one point, we reflected on how we truly had come full circle. Around this time last year, we were sitting together outside of Blue Wall at UMass, swapping stories and giving them advice for their applications to study in Granada.
Seeing the city I’ve been living in since September through fresh eyes was just what I needed to get me writing again, as lately I’ve been having a little bit of a block.
I think a big part of it has to do with the level of normalcy my life in Jaén has taken on. I’m comfortable, and I have my routine here. I made a promise to myself to write more this year, but at this point, I’ve settled in, and the moments that used to shock, surprise, or even aggravate me I now consider part of the daily rhythm of life.
When every day seems to blend together, it’s difficult to view the progress I’ve made, to see the extraordinary in the day to day, but that moment last weekend with my friends made realize that I’m doing what I set out to do. While this experience has not been everything I thought it would be, I’m still living in freakin’ Spain, and I’m learning a lot more about myself and life in general than I thought I would be at the age of twenty three.
Of course, I have only been here for six months – something that hit me the other day when the date stamped on my bus ticket read March 1st. There is A LOT more to learn. Looking back on that time, though, I feel I’ve matured significantly since the September day I stepped off the bus into the jienense heat.
Six months ago, I thought I knew myself pretty well, but I’ve spent most of my time in Spain uncovering new sides of my personality. For instance, who would have thought that I’d LIKE teaching? Additionally, I began this year with a “see the world” mentality, hoping to travel as much as possible. What I’ve learned that I’m a bit boring in that sense (probably why I haven’t posted any “travel tips” posts…i dunno, it’s just not my thing!). Seeing a new place every weekend does not leave me feeling fulfilled. I’d rather take time to build connections with a place and its people. I like to leave feeling as though I’ve become a part of it, and it’s become a part of me.
To sum it all up, these past few months have shown me that both the writing process and life in general are about recognizing beauty in whoever I meet and wherever I happen to be. It’s not easy, but I’m slowly learning to stop and appreciate the mundane, whether I’m at school being attacked by cute, snot-nosed little cherubs or appreciating a nice, cold Budweiser with friends as we watch the sun set over a never-ending sea of olive trees.