As the months go by since returning to New York, I think about my two years in Spain, the experience I had, what it all meant, and how it will play out into the future. Returning to the rhythms of life in New York City, it’s easy to feel as though my time abroad was one huge dream, a completely separate way of life.
When I received the letter saying I was accepted on a Fulbright grant to go to Spain, I was very excited about the opportunity, but nervous about leaving my life back home behind. I had certain expectations: I would interact with new people in a foreign culture, sure, but I had no idea how it would manifest itself, which relationships would emerge, what I would learn and discover. In many ways, when I boarded the plane to go to Spain, I took a leap of faith.
Of course, the events that unfolded from this point onward were exciting. From the moment I met my coordinator at the airport, to making friends at orientation, to meeting my host family and students, everything was completely new and out of my control. What I did have in my control, above anything else, was how I would give to this new community, and how actively I would participate. When I put myself in this new environment, I had to draw upon my own schooling and life to create meaningful contributions
The last thing I would have expected was that I would end up staying in Spain a second year. Though I had doubts when I made the commitment to return, I took the ball and ran with it. The second year was bigger and better than before, and returning with more experience and knowledge deepened my time at the school, leading to new and unexpected surprises. By the time this year was done, I felt incredibly fulfilled by the program I helped to create, the hundreds of people I was fortunate enough to meet, and the challenges I had accepted and worked through. It was difficult to leave behind, but my work was done and the time had come.
This video serves as a tribute to all the beautiful people I met during my time in Spain. Had I not taken this journey, my life would not have been enriched by meeting each and every one of you. I am glad our paths crossed, and that we shared these great moments with one another. I know that, wherever we go in life, we’ll remember being an ¡Extran Hero!