By: Laura Pacheco
I tend to possess an unfortunate set of qualities that prevent me from being calm in uncomfortable situations. I don’t ask for directions, eating new food is a generally bad experience, and trying to make new friends feels a bit like holding your breath underwater for a really really long time. Many of you, knowing that may now be wondering why I thought this semester was a good idea to which I reply: good question. To be perfectly honest I did not have a specific reason on why I loved the gap semester until I was already here. I’m not sure if I have some underlying desire to make myself uncomfortable out of spite or if I was meant to be here or I accidently got lucky and made one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. That being said, the joy of this experience has not let me escape the uncomfortable. Food has been a pleasant surprise because I am forced to be polite and eat whatever is given to me and I have actually loved it almost 100% of the time. I have found my way around town as well but my Spanish is still poor and I have essentially felt like I am out of place and doing relatively poorly. It was not until my plane from Brussels, Belgium after a weekend of travel and felt, upon seeing the streets of my city from the air I felt an unbelievable rush of calm and the words “Im home popped into my head before I could even think them. It was the emotion I hadn’t felt in a long time and even had trouble feeling on returning to Columbia for fall break. Being back in Alicante I knew the streets and I knew the bus system and the prices of my favorite bakery and the smell of my apartment and I didn’t know how comfortable this place was until I left. I don’t know why and that seems surprising and odd but my meaning of home has changed drastically over the past couple months. Home is different on Gap. It’s not where you were born and where all your family and things are. Its a place you were dropped in and a place that grew on you even when you fought it. Its where these strangers became your family and at times your only source of sanity. In a moment the entire point of studying abroad hit me. I found familiars in the food, in the lifestyle, in the language, in the culture. Things that were once scary but now are a haven. If you can connect with a culture so much that in a way it becomes your own and it begins to provide the security of an identity. That’s when you have connected to a completely different place. That’s when you have found a home.