A year abroad means many things.
It means turning 25 on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.
It means new friends from across the globe. Canada to Spain. England to Australia. Many I hope to keep for the rest of my life.
How do you sum up a month?
How do you sum up a year?
I don’t know. I could start with what I’ll miss.
I’ll miss my roommates Paige and Maddie.
Paige and I often jostled for a position on the large couch, better for afternoon siestas.
And watching Maddie lean forward as she told me another funny story about how she almost adopted a dog in the middle of the street always brightened my day.
I love these two like they are my sisters.
I’ll miss my apartment in the heart of Malasana. It was a point of envy for all our friends that visited. They would sprawl out in our living room and complain about the shoe box they called home.
I’ll miss our street, filled with the buzz of Spaniards strolling from bar to bar every weekend until the sun rose.
I’ll miss the street art that peppered the city walls. I began documenting the explosions of color while on summer evening walks. I created an album so I could look back on them fondly.
For the first time in my life I’ll have people I hold dear far flung around the world.
My social media is awash with their faces. I hate that I can see them through a screen, but can’t physically connect. And I’m afraid many I’ll never see in person again.
I’m currently writing in a hostel in Prague. A flag wavers in the wind outside my window, back dropped by stone monuments and a copper tower-capped church.
Most of my friends evaporated with the start of the summer sun. They went back home to renew visas and visit family, or work at summer camps, or travel before coming back to Madrid.
I ended my year abroad with a week long sprint through Hungary, Austria, and the Czech Republic.
In a few days my feet will be back on U.S. soil.
My mind conjures up the image of shaking hands and kissing babies. I have no plans to run for office any time soon.
There are many hugs and many laughs to be had over beers and coffee in the near future. I very much look forward to it.
Am I different?
Are the people I left behind different?
Is that good or bad? Or irrelevant?
I’m concerned I may be reuniting with familiar strangers.
I have mixed emotions. However, there is so much on the horizon that excites me.
I want to rediscover my hometown.
I want to walk the city streets.
I want to find out what I’ve missed, what’s been happening in St. Petersburg, Florida.