After spending four months in the bustling Spanish city of Granada, I can honestly say that coming back to Albion has been quite the adjustment. Like 20 other students last semester, I chose to spend a semester abroad to study Spanish language; now I’m back in Albion and back to the comforts of home.
During my time in Spain, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to travel around other European countries and explore incredible and fascinating places, like the big sweeping dunes of the Sahara Desert, the Astronomical Tower in the charming city of Prague and the small cobbled streets of beautiful Paris. I also lived in a loud city with a thriving nightlife and amazing restaurants. Needless to say, it didn’t remind me much of the quiet and cozy campus here in Albion.
Moving to Spain for four months was a shock to my system. I lived in a world entirely different from the one I had known in suburban Michigan, but by the end of those four months, Granada felt like home to me. I learned how to navigate the city, found my favorite bars, knew my favorite places to eat and even became accustomed to their seemingly strange eating schedule (i.e. waiting until 9 p.m. to eat dinner). By the time December rolled around and I packed up to head back home, I didn’t know how I would react to being back in the U.S. There were things about Spain and Granada that I had come to love dearly that I would have to do without back in Michigan (I’m looking at you, tapas). Coming back to Michigan weirdly felt like moving to a foreign country all over again, even though I was returning to the place where I had spent nearly 21 years of my life.
Being back in Albion has been comforting in some ways. It’s nice to see the friends whom I’ve missed and take classes in my native tongue again. At the same time though, there’s a lot about Albion that makes me miss Spain and the time I spent there. The pace of life here in rural Albion is extremely slow compared to the busy city of Granada — the booming late night parties and the slightly frantic speed of traveling on weekends away being replaced with Netflix marathons and late night pizza deliveries. I can’t say I missed doing all that homework (in Spain there is usually no homework for any classes) or the freezing temperatures. Walking into a party at Albion just isn’t the same as hanging out at my favorite Spanish bar. For one, I don’t get free food every time I go to an Albion party. And second, no matter how hard Baldwin tries, it will never truly master the art of mediterranean cuisine. I also miss hearing Spanish everywhere I go and practicing the language that I’ve come to love.
Since I’ve been back, I feel like a first-year student again. I’m re-learning things that used to be second nature to me about the campus and the culture we have built here at Albion. I know that eventually it will feel as if I never left, but for now, I’m weirdly enjoying the experience of seeing Albion through a fresh pair of eyes. It’s like getting a second chance to fall in love with this school all over again, even if I left a small part of my heart behind in Granada, my temporary home.
Photo by Emily Miller