Stepping off the train in Alicante, I felt confident. After participating in exchange in high school with a Spanish host family, I imagined the second time to be a breeze. Feeling rather clueless with the language, eating late dinners, and taking the occasional siesta were habitable; I was ready.
Unsurprisingly, things were different, and although truthfully, abroad can be difficult, what I found most centering was climbing the castle almost every evening at sunset. Alicante is a small town, but in its center is an old castle built on the highest hill in the city. Upon arrival, the entire group centered to the top of the castle, but after this, it became a practice that spurred reflection and friendship (and a little exercise after demasiado paella).
For me, a person constantly focused on the next step, Spain, and my time spent climbing the castle, taught me the importance of taking a pause. Moving forward at Duke, despite the constant pressure that busy equates to success, I will be taking more time to pause. For students wanting to study abroad, once you embark, find something that centers you and fosters thought in order to learn the most from your experience.
Class of 2022, Public Policy Studies, International Comparative Studies