Echoes: Lessons from Spain

By Nicole Ciullo
Blogger

Hello, again.

The icon of Paris. (Photo courtesy of Nicole Ciullo)
The icon of Paris. (Photo courtesy of Nicole Ciullo)

I am writing this post after taking a long siesta to re-energize from a busy morning of travel back to Spain from London. Though I only spent two days exploring the city, I am grateful to have been able to visit Westminister Abbey, the London Bridge and Big Ben. These experiences, among many others, have been dreams of mine since I was una niña; however, I never imagined that I would be able to cross them off the bucket list I made during my junior year of high school with these new friends that would become my family. This remarkable feeling of being able to accomplish one of your dreams, and discovering new dreams, is the focus of this post.

Nicole's new best friend. (Photo courtesy of Nicole Ciullo)
Nicole’s new best friend. (Photo courtesy of Nicole Ciullo)

One of the main incentives of studying abroad, aside from the educational aspect, lies in the capability to easily travel to other cities within your country or stay, as well as other European nations. During my trip to Spain, I have spent weekends in four of Spain’s most beautiful and interesting cities: Granada, Valencia, Barcelona and The Canary Islands. Because my friends and I had limited time in each location, days were often spent waking up at 8am, going to bed at 4am, and then waking up and repeating. Though exhaustion eventually would set in, these restless nights at cheap, sometimes dirty hostels, have been some of my favorite memories of my time abroad. On these trips within Spain, I watched a live flamenco show, visited La Alhambra, and ate some of the best food I’ve ever eaten, visited El Museo de las Artes y las Ciencias, went to the music festival AbroadFest, and passed endless hours soaking up the sun on the different coasts of Spain.

Smooching the Blarney Stone. (Photo courtesy of Nicole Ciullo)
Smooching the Blarney Stone. (Photo courtesy of Nicole Ciullo)

The most remarkable part, however, was discovering the other countries of Europe and dreams I never knew I had. I spent a weekend traveling through different cities in Morocco where I tried Moroccan food for the first time and rode a camel along the beach. I spent Saint Patrick’s Day weekend in Ireland where I learned how to dance an Irish Jig and kissed the Blarney Stone, believed to be one of the luckiest things in the world to do. In Paris, I visited the Louve and the Mona Lisa, climbed the Eiffel Tower, and visited Versailles; it was here I discovered that my destiny may be to leave home after graduation and move to Europe where I can truly engross myself in the beautiful culture that it has to offer.

Now that I am almost done with my time in Spain, I am nervous that I will have accomplished too much, seen too much of the world, and lose my desire. Pero, what I am finding is that I am not meant for one place. I do not want to settle or live a life sin de aventura.  I was meant to explore and discover new parts of the world through my own photographs.

Spain is what has taught me that maybe the future I imagined for myself is not what I really want.  I no longer think I want to teach Spanish in high school; or live in the United States; or even create a plan for my future.  Life is supposed to be lived and that is what I am doing, and what I encourage everyone else to do as well. The world is a big and beautiful place; go see for yourself.

Best wishes and adios,
Nicole Ciullo

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