It’s hard to believe that so much time has passed since I found these books under the tree on Christmas morning. I hadn’t looked at them much during the following weeks because my summer excursion to Spain felt like a distant dream. Second semester classes took priority from January to April, so the books gathered dust on a shelf for awhile. Once classes started winding down in mid April, it was time to think ahead to May 5th, the start of my month-long Spanish adventure. Excerpts from the National Geographic book introduced me to Madrid’s history and culture, detailing every museum, plaza and festival. Although the excerpts have painted colorful pictures of the city, they haven’t made this distant dream enough of a reality for me to feel totally confident and prepared for tomorrow’s flight. My suitcase is packed and my checklist is nearly complete, but I still feel nervous that I’m not ready. Even though I’ve read about the city, there’s no way to know exactly what to expect when you go to a foreign country for the first time. Fear of the unknown future is probably a natural anxiety, so I am embracing the emotion as a sign that I am determined to make the most out of my European journey.
After all, there is so much to look forward to: trips to museums and the bullfighting ring, flamenco classes and day-long excursions are some of the activities on the itinerary along with Spanish classes, educational lectures and deadlines for journalistic content. Every day will be a new adventure. I’ll embrace a foreign way of life as I get to know my host family in Salamanca for the first two weeks and my sources for online stories when I arrive in Madrid on may 20th. I am eager and excited to experience life with people of a different cultural background and to come home a more worldly, compassionate journalist.