Grace Cavanagh '21
Continuing "Abroad" from Home
During my first week in Granada, Spain, friends and I went to trivia night at the local Irish pub for a taste of home and a break from constant Spanish-speaking. It was the second week of January, and I swear, the first trivia question asked, “a mysterious respiratory illness has hit which country in the world?” The answer? China. The so-called mysterious respiratory illness? Coronavirus. Never in my wildest dreams did I consider that that same illness would send me home two months later, with less than 48 hours to pack my bags, say my goodbyes, and process that my abroad experience had been cut in half.
Now, four weeks later, I am grappling with what it means to be home in Albany, New York, still trying to keep the connections I created in Granada in a world that looks completely different. What does it mean to take a Spanish oral comprehension class when the only Spanish practice I get nowadays comes from the four hours a week I spend on Zoom? How can I remain close with my host mom in Spain, whose only method of communication is WhatsApp? When will I be able to look back on my experience without feeling an overwhelming sense of loss, and instead remember all the amazing trips I took and people I met?
And different as it is from what I expected, somehow “abroad” has managed to continue, even as I spend my days at home, moving from bed to desk to couch back to bed. I zoom into class, still held entirely in Spanish, for six hours a week and continue working on my Spanish accent. I log onto our online GranadArte sessions, where our program director teaches a relaxing art class to help us relieve stress, just as he did every week in Granada. On Wednesdays I facetime with friends to continue our tradition of eating out together every week before going to Mae West, our favorite spot. The connections and traditions I created abroad have not been broken, they have simply had to adapt.
So as sad as I am that my time in Spain was cut short, I also try to be grateful that I had such a wonderful experience to begin with. Moreover, I remain grateful that I have a home to come back to, and family with whom I can pass the weeks of social distancing. I have been able to read books that have sat on my shelf for years and cook all of my favorite foods I couldn’t find in Granada. As I continue to mull over my quick departure from Spain, I am certain that my time travelling and learning about the world has not ended with the conclusion of study abroad; it only just begun.
Grace Cavanagh '21