Exchange. No one understands the magnitude that this word carries for those of us who were lucky enough to participate in an six month youth exchange to Seville, Spain. This half year was in no way easy, however it teaches you so much about yourself and the rewards outweigh the difficulties a thousand times over.
I have been living in the city centre of Seville, which is undoubtedly one of the most liveable and lively cities in all of Spain. I could not have been luckier with all the incredible, life-long Spanish friends I have made here, the countless most enjoyable social activities, the small moments I have spent every day bonding and living with my lovely host family, and also just the personal fulfilment you feel when you begin to be able to communicate in another language.
Spain is an extremely diverse country with the South being mainly hot and dry, and the north, more like my hometown; green hills, mountains and snow. More than that though, the people here are some of the friendliest and best people I have ever known. Anywhere you go, you get a cheerful smile and an “hola”, while everyone wants to be your friend and make an effort with you.
I remember clearly the thoughts going through my head as I nervously walked up to the sliding door, to meet my host family. I was literally shaking with nerves and my mind was a jumble. I had various moments when I experienced those feelings, first day of school, first time I spoke in front of the class, etc. In truth, I have always been someone who is quite extroverted and talks a lot but I can honestly say though, that every one of these moments has helped me to grow in confidence and to feel more comfortable in my own shoes.
I find myself now, with 3 months of my exchange to go and I’m conversing in Spanish everyday with my friends and family, thinking in Spanish, navigating my city as if I had lived here my whole life and am so busy that I am booked up every weekend practically until the end of my exchange. I also look ahead and see my year next year in Canada and I can feel that I will carry so much with me from this exchange. I look to my first day of University, back home, where I will be starting from scratch and not know anyone, without the slightest apprehension and I already have plans to return to Spain at the end of next year! I will carry this experience with me forever and I know that a piece of my heart will always belong here in Spain, as a part of me will always be Spanish.