I think it’s the middle places and the in between times that I think are the hardest in any situation. You know, like the middle of a roadtrip, or the middle of a long line, or the middle of a class, or the middle of a difficult season in life (even though you probably don’t actually know that you’re in the middle). And I think that’s because there’s a lot of uncertainty that comes with being in the middles of things. You’re not really sure how much longer you have to go. You’re not sure how long it’ll take to get there. And you’re not quite sure if it’s worth it to keep going (or if it’s worth it to quit, considering that you’ve already gotten that far). That middle and in between place is where I think a lot of us on Spain Term are at right now. When we go to bed tonight, we’ll be finishing up our 41st day out of 105 in this amazingly beautiful country. And at the same time, I know that many of us are thinking that means we have 64 days left, in the dragging-your-voice, get-me-to-the-end kind of way. And it feels even more like an in between place because they told us about this. We knew it would happen. We tried to prepare for it, but nonetheless (like a lot of things), we still got to this point.
Middles are hard because we’ve been here long enough now that it doesn’t feel new and exciting anymore. I mean, I just discovered this morning that I can make it to school in 12 minutes if I speed walk really fast from my house and half-run up the aqueduct steps (which only means that I can probably get there even faster if I’m actually running, but that’s probably not going to happen). We’ve sort of settled into a routine, but it’s a routine that still feels sort of foreign (lunch at 3pm and dinner at 10pm, anyone?), and we don’t quite feel exactly at home here. In addition, we just got back from fall break, which, while it was wonderful, exhilarating, exhausting, frustrating, and breathtaking all at the same time, I know that it was difficult for many of us to come back to Spain because it definitely felt like we should’ve been arriving “home” in the Minneapolis airport instead of the Madrid airport.
And aside from that, I just know that being away from home this long has definitely taken its toll on me as well as on others. I mean, it’s hard being gone for so long. You’re away from everything that’s familiar and that’s something that’s a lot harder than a lot of us might have expected. It’s tough when your host family doesn’t get you the way that your stateside one does, even if they might be really great. It’s tough when you can’t fully express yourself in Spanish the way that you’d want to in English. It’s tough when every subject that you’re studying is completely foreign to you. It’s tough not having the same access to some of the American things that you’re used to (meaning I definitely bought face scrub or 8 euros #yolo). And I think especially when you’re away from home and your family, it’s tough when you don’t have your group of friends that know you and get you to help you get through whatever may come, because, again, you’re in an in between place. You get along well with the people that you’re with, and you love being with them, but it’s just not quite the same as having your friends and family that know your whole story and get why certain things affect you in a certain way. And to top it all off, you’re trying to do everything that you normally do in a second language, so there’s also that.
So, here we are, in an in between place during our #100daysinSpain. It’s a tough place to be, but as my friend Elise told me earlier this week, we need to try and power through this middle place and soak up every sight, every smell, every sound, and every moment that we have in this place, because before we know it, it’ll be over. And when it’s over, we’ll have days and moments where we’d give anything to come back to this place that we desperately want out of right now, and I think that’s something incredibly powerful for us to remember when these hard times and these hard days and these hard moments come: our time and our days here are limited and this is a once (maybe twice, who knows…?) in a lifetime opportunity and we can’t waste it missing the things from home that we don’t have right now, especially because we’ll be back home in a little over two months.
So here we are, in Segovia, in Spain, in Europe, 3000 miles away from home, and here’s to making the next 64 days some of the best of our lives.