Six and a half months. Fourteen countries. Fifty cities. Countless memories.
It’s time to come home, Raya.
At least that’s what I keep telling myself.
As I sit here typing on my computer for the first time since I set off on my two-month European tour in June, I can’t help but wonder if all of this has been real. After all, several dreams came true for me this year.
I studied abroad in Granada, Spain, and four-and-a-half months and a dozens of crazy adventures and fun times later, I came out fluent in Spanish, in love with the beauty and culture of that Andalusian gem of a city and the rest of Spain as a whole, and with a number of strong friendships I know will last for a while.
I backpacked around Europe for two months, during which I saw, did, and experienced so many amazing things, and met, visited, and traveled with so many truly wonderful people.
And while the days were long, fun, exciting, and full, the time has gone by unnervingly fast. This dream I’ve been living is now coming to an end.
But that’s just how it goes, isn’t it? Life goes on, and so must we. And while at the moment I’m sad to leave and apprehensive and unsure of what to expect from my homecoming, I take so much comfort in the fact that I’m returning to an incredibly loving and positive home in Seattle and Vancouver.
It’s been a comfort that has stayed with me during my travels, especially during the past two months. As much as I was thrilled beyond belief to be living my dream of traveling around Europe, it was so nice to be reminded every once and a while of the fact that I had such a superb place and family and friends to come home to when the time came.
The following quote painted on the wall of this Madrid hostel, the last I’ll be staying in in Europe, says it all, and I couldn’t have found it at a better time:
There is much to explore, experience and discover on this planet, that you need to grasp the chance when it comes along as your true friends and family will still be here when you feel ready to return.
With these thoughts in mind, and gratitude in my heart for the experiences I’ve had and the people I’ve shared them with, I will at long last undertake my return journey home.
As they say, don’t cry because it’s over, be happy because it happened. For when one adventure ends, another begins. And now that these dreams of mine have been realized, I get to go find a new dream.
It’s time to come home, Raya.
There are so many people without whom the past six months would not have been possible, nor as amazing and as fulfilling as they were. Words cannot possible express how grateful I am for the following people, but nevertheless they are all most deserving of thanks, so here goes:
Mom, Dad, Madie, and the rest of my dear family, thank you for your unending support, love, and encouragement as I took on Europe and went through the ups and downs of living abroad and traveling solo.
Verónica, Fernando, y Alejo, muchísimas gracias por todo lo que me habéis dado y hecho para mí, siempre os guardaré en mi corazón como otra familia mía; sin vosotros, mi experiencia de intercambio en Granada no habría sido la misma.
The people I met and friends I made in Granada, especially Meg, Sarah, Lisa, Andrea, Maddy, and Ida Marie, thank you for all of the fun times, the memories, and for being there and helping me through some rough patches. I cannot wait until the next time our paths cross.
My friends back home and in Vancouver, thank you for making the effort to stay in touch with me during my long absence. Your support meant so much to me and all those texts, messages, Snap Chats, and Skype calls were such a delight to receive and I absolutely cannot wait to see you all so very soon.
Everyone I met up with, traveled with, and visited (Lauren, Gabo, Lena, Britta, Mika, Maddy, Andrea, and Chris), thank you for spending time with me and in some cases showing me around places you’d lived or were living in at the time, you have no idea how much your company meant to me and I am forever grateful for those times we spent and the memories we made.
And all those other lovely folks I met while on the road, especially you gals at the Stay Inn Lisbon Hostel and you Aussies, Canadians, and Americans at Olga’s Place in San Sebastián, thank you for saying hello, for having a chat with me, partying with me, going exploring with me, whatever it was, it was such a pleasure to meet you, if only for a night or a few days. Hope to see you again somewhere in the world!
Europe, thanks for everything. No es un adiós, sino un hasta luego. I know I’ll be seeing you again soon.