By Emily Archer
It was a rainy and cold weekend for Thanksgiving this year, but that's probably nothing to the snow and cold poor Iowa got! Spending Thanksgiving here was definitely an experience, if only because there really wasn't an experience. Or we had to make our own experience, because while there is Black Friday here (completely commercialized), there is no Thanksgiving. Which makes complete sense, because Thanksgiving was all about the native Americans and pilgrims making friends (or so our kindergarten teachers tell us!).
But I wasn't expecting it to have such an impact on me, and I think the fact that my study abroad experience is almost over also really got me feeling a little homesick and a little left out. My host mom, the loving lady that she is, made a delicious roast chicken with potatoes, and had some membrillo (which I counted as cranberry sauce equivalent) with cheese, and then some Christmas cookies to celebrate. I got to tell her all about Thanksgiving in the US, explain to her why it was so important.
Thanksgiving dinner with friends!
While I don't think it helped with the homesickness, I think it helped with feeling even more at home here, if that makes sense. I also spent the weekend with friends, dancing the night away and heading to the nearest American restaurant for some burgers and fries (the true American dinner), and it was mind-blowing to me that in a couple weeks, we would be going our separate ways once again.
I mean, in what other situation would there be a chance to make friends and leave friends so abrubtly besides studying abroad? A few months is no time! But they definitely helped keep the homesickness away, and even though I did not once have turkey this past weekend, I did feel like I made my own Thanksgiving experience, with my own family that I've made here in Sevilla. The rain and the cold did not help though. I think it followed me all weekend, even to my day trip to Ronda, which was absolutely beautiful but it's really hard to appreciate when all you want to do is snuggle up in bed and watch Netflix. When we got back to Sevilla, it was sunny (but still cold), but I went straight home and never left my bed for the rest of the weekend, except to Skype my mom and eat.
The weekend before I also went to my first soccer game here in Spain! It wasn't quite like a World Cup game, but it was a great environment that I think rivals even the crazy U of I fans back at home! The stadium wasn't too full, but there were two giant groups of people on either side of the stadium chanting and waving the Betis flag for the first half of the game, but for some reason during the second half, everyone from each section had left! I'm not sure if it was because Betis was really sucking that night or if they needed to rest their tired vocal chords.
A view from the day trip to Ronda.
It also happened to be raining that day (see? Rain is FOLLOWING me!) and players were slipping and sliding all over the place (and then blaming it on the other team). Even though I was cold and wet, I did enjoy getting into the game and yelling along with all the other fans. Even though Betis kind of stinks, it's like the home team of Sevilla (besides the actual Sevilla team), and I think everyone has a soft spot for them. I'm sure I couldn't do any better than they could anyway!
Now with my last full week of school started, it's time to start thinking of what lies ahead. I'm not going home yet, not until January, but I'm getting excited for the day some of my home comes to me when my mom and little brother come visit! It's like I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but also the light at the beginning of the tunnel too, where I started. Wooah, deep. I looked back at all these things I did at the beginning of the semester, all the things I felt, and I'm so proud of myself for overcoming and (almost) successfully making it through a semester abroad. While I do have a month (holy cow it's December 1st!) and five days left, most of it will be spent traveling with friends, Christmas with family (minus a dad and brother and his fiancée!), and enjoying my last days in Europe before heading back to the bump and grind of good ol' Iowa City.
I told my best friend and soulmate Rachel, "I don't want to leave." Which is 100% true, but I also felt that way on the plane heading over to Spain. I'm scared and nervous about coming back to Iowa. Which is strange because that's what I've known for my whole life. But now I see things in a different way (look, look with my special eyes), and I just feel different.
But as my wonderful soulmate replied to me with her wise words, "Life's what you make it so let's make it rock – Hannah Montana".
Emily Archer is a junior majoring in Journalism with a minor in Spanish at the University of Iowa. She is currently studying abroad on the CIEE Seville Communications, New Media and Journalism Program in Seville, Spain.
Take a look at Emily's personal travel blog here.