Reunited, and it feels so good…. study abroad reflections

By Lynn Hausman, API Seville Peer Mentor

Lynn is a student at Marist College and studied with API in the Spanish Language, Business, and Applied/Social Sciences program at the Pablo de Olavide University in Seville, Spain.

“Re-you-nited and it feeeels so gooooood!” Everyone knows the song. But have you truly felt the passion of the lyrics? Have you ever reunited with someone, or a group of people, in your life that have been missing from it for far too long…and it really felt SO good?! I have- and the feeling is too sweet to be put into words.

The gang in Granada - Romy, Allissa, Me, Carly, and Rudy

This past February, I met up with my best friends from my semester abroad in Sevilla, Spain. We travelled from all over the east coast- Philadelphia, Maryland, Boston, Poughkeepsie, and Connecticut- to meet up in Rhode Island for a weekend. To say the weekend flew by would be an understatement. To say we reminisced incessantly would also be an understatement. And to say it felt absolutely amazing to reunite would be right on point.

I assumed I would make new friends during my semester abroad, but by no means expected to make best friends. My older sister predicted this much easier than I did; one of her college roommates studied abroad in Paris. She sat across from me at a small, lopsided table in the JFK airport on my day of departure with glassy eyes and imagined the friends I would make. “You’re gonna make all these friends and then you guys are will have so many reunions when you get back…” and thinking back on her college roommate, she furthered, “You are just gonna meet so many people from all over. I’m jealous.” I smiled and nodded, hoping she was right. She was.

When I went to Sevilla, I wasn’t in the same boat as everyone else; I wasn’t completely on my own. One of my good friends from Marist College had also chosen to study abroad with API in Sevilla. We didn’t exactly plan this, because frankly, my plan was to go abroad independently, without knowing anyone. However, it definitely calmed my nerves those first couple days of the semester to have a good friend with me; it was like a mini support system by my side.

This is one aspect of studying abroad that so many students wonder about before they go, including me. Should I go abroad with someone I already know? Will I make friends easily? The answers to these questions are quite subjective. Although I would recommend everyone to go on their own, maybe it just so happens that someone you already know chose the same program as you- and that’s not a bad thing. You just have to make sure not to fall into the comfort zone of sticking with that person all the time. Luckily, my friend and I were able to make new friends, some mutual and some separate. We formed our own connections and bonds with others that didn’t necessarily involve each other. Going abroad with friends is great because you can make even more memories with them. But going abroad completely independently is great too, because you make memories with new friends. I tried my best to put myself out there as an individual and embrace my independence. My best friends in Sevilla helped me realize my desire to not be known as one half of a pair, but rather as one whole of you.

While in the charming city of Sevilla, I lived in a residencia with 5 other American students who were part of the API program. As most college students know, living with someone is the easiest way to become close to them- and fast. As you can probably guess, I became extremely close with my roommates. I applaud the system API uses to choose who lives together because they did a stellar job in pairing my roommates and me.

I was close with all my roommates in different ways, but in particular I formed the strongest bonds with two of them- one guy, Rudy, and one girl, Romy. Rudy, Romy, my friend from my home school, Allissa, and I had some sort of natural chemistry. We were all such different characters, but were amused by each other in such a way that we were drawn to one another. By the second week of the semester, we had pulled together two twin beds to lay and watch Shawshank Redemption on a laptop set up on a desk chair in front of us, though we could barely hear over the blaring fan. We were also comfortable enough to be honest with each other; no one pretended to ignore each other’s painstaking care to avoid skin on skin contact…the blistering heat in Sevilla definitely needed some getting used to.

Allissa, Carly, Me, Rudy, and Romy

Not only did I become especially close with Rudy and Romy, but also a few other members of the API program. I knew while abroad I would be lucky enough to get the opportunity to learn about and experience numerous cultures. However, I did not know some of those new cultures would actually be from America. Romy raved about the irreplaceable vibe of her home in New York City and surprised me with stories of her mother’s South African roots. Rudy, having grown up in Brazil until he was 9 years old, shared with me bits and pieces of his home country. Perhaps unknowingly, he helped me understand the more openness and acceptance of his culture; he never seemed to deem anything too inappropriate to talk about at the dinner table. Another one of my closest friends from the program, Carly (short for Carlyle), opened my eyes to her own culture of pure optimism. Carly could find the good in literally everyone and in every day. While I know her personality was so unique to her, it also seemed to be a reflection on her home, California, where it seems to me that the tradition is to make days brighter, even when the sun’s not out.

My best friends in Sevilla became a second family. We travelled together. We danced together. We gave each other massages and napped together. We laughed until we cried together and got into trouble together. We bickered with each other like siblings. We cried to each other after drinking one too many glasses of wine. We ate our meals together and sat at the table for hours after we were done eating, just talking about anything and everything. We spent time together that I wouldn’t trade for the world. These individuals quickly turned into people I couldn’t imagine life without.

As I mentioned earlier, these were the individuals I was able to meet up with in Rhode Island for a weekend. For those couple days, it literally felt like we were back in Spain again. Studying abroad in Spain felt, and sometimes still feels like it was, unreal. Consequently, that weekend felt like a break from reality; it was a break from the respective struggles, stresses, and problems of each of our lives. We felt carefree and content. I choked back tears as I drove back to Poughkeepsie, away from the people and the feelings I did not want to leave behind. However, I soon pulled myself together through the realization that no matter how far away we were or how different the turns of our lives became, we would still always part a part of each other’s lives.

As a senior in college, with graduation nearer than I can even believe, uncertainty is a theme of my life right now. At one point, I felt intimidated to not know where I would be come September. Thankfully, as days go by, I feel excited, because uncertainty can bring great things. Uncertainty was without a doubt a pretty huge theme of my life right before studying abroad, too. What I’m not uncertain about is the strength of the bonds I have with these people. I know no matter what choices I make, as long as I keep close those that I love and those who love me, any bumps I encounter will soften. Meanwhile, I’ll be counting down the days until our next reunion.

Our first night in Madrid with API

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  1. Christie Johnson says

    Lynn – I LOVE this! Thanks so much for sharing!

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Flashback to our Fall API student's first days in Spain. Madrid orientation with our friends from api_granada, Salamanca guided tour, and lunch tapas (+first days of classes!)

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