I never imagined I would study abroad nearly five thousand miles away from home. Now, four years later, I know college is about expanding horizons. After years of convincing myself, I finally decided to study abroad at the end of my junior year. I didn’t even know where to start. I just knew I wanted to learn about Spanish language and culture, and I needed money from scholarships and fundraisers to fund my experience.

Four months later, I said adiós to the taxi driver as we pulled up to my program’s office in Madrid, Spain. From that day forward the journey flew by. Going to school was not the only enjoyable part in Spain. The food and scenery were amazing. It became so much of a ritual to get churros every night that the staff at the famous 24-hour diner Chocolatería San Gines already knew what we would order.The cobblestoned streets and landscaped parks and buildings of the city, and even the lighting and promotions of the department store, Corte Inglés, always made walking the streets, feel like a scene of the Disney movie “Alice in Wonderland.”

I lived a bus stop away from one of my favorite palaces in Madrid. It was called Palacio Real and the artistic style of each room was breath-taking from rug to ceiling as almost every room had different chandeliers and artist designs adorning the ceilings, walls and patterns of rugs. School, food, landscaping, in addition to sports, were all art forms that I experienced. At my first Real Madrid soccer game I was amazed at the footwork of players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Isco. The fans reminded me of how fans celebrate the Saints in New Orleans. Dancing also reminded me of home. Men and women of all ages would fill the floors of the discotecas until 6 a.m., which was when the metro would re-open.

The experience, just like college, went as fast as Spain’s rapid transportation. Going to college allowed me to be curious about the rest of the world, and Xavier made me feel at ease about my decision to study abroad. After all, college is about making it happen. The knowledge I obtained about myself and the world was priceless and more important than anything I could have learned in the classroom.

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