By Emily Carpey, School to School Exchange participant

Being a seasoned traveler, I feel like I am supposed to be accustomed to falling in love with a city and then having to leave it. The happiest place in the world is, in my humble opinion, the arrivals gate at any airport. The arrivals gate stands for the start of an adventure, the most dramatic “hello,” the place for beginnings. As happy as I was to hear the familiar American accent and be in the arms of the ones I love upon landing in Philadelphia after the School to School Exchange in Spain, nothing could take away the melancholy I have already started to experience. All of these fragments of memories are flooding my mind, and I’m too terrified of forgetting any of them so I’ll write them down as fast as I can, wipe the tears away from my eyes and remember that these faces, and these memories will last. Here we go:

I’ve spent two and a half weeks:

Speaking and translating
Stumbling over words
Learning Spanish slang
Revisiting places I’ve already seen
Seeing them completely differently
Flirting with Spanish cities….and Spanish boys
Daydreaming of dramatic and unrealistic adventures in Spain
Laughing until my abs hurt and considering that my workout for the day
Shoving chocolate y churros in my face in my favorite Chocolateria, San Gines
Learning how to do a head stand in Spanish gym class
Wandering down cobblestone streets
Finding hidden gems in very touristy cities
Leaving my fishbowl and adapting to a new one
Seizing every day and every moment
Succumbing to wanderlust
Taking at least 10 seconds to be present at least once a day
Putting my phone down to enjoy the moment and the view
Eating, eating and eating some more because “Estoy llena!” is not part of the Spanish vocabulary
Becoming best friends with people I’ve known my whole life
Becoming “hermanos” with people I met a few months ago
Becoming a member of 19 families

To my hermanos, my families and my new friends from around the world:
Thank you for taking me in, showing me your world and giving me the opportunity of a lifetime. Os quiero con todo mi corazon.

To Spain:
You have my heart forever. For better or worse, you and I will always be in a long distance relationship.

To Mommy and Daddy:
Thank you for giving me this experience, for encouraging me to get up, get out, and explore uncharted waters. Thank you for giving me the world.

Wanting to make cultural exchange a part of your lifestyle? Learn more about the School to School exchange program here.