Column by Rachel Freeman

Rachel Freeman
Rachel Freeman

As the end of my semester abroad and this semester of the Oracle quickly approaches, I fear it is the time for my incredibly cheesy reflection column.

Where do I even begin? Let’s talk about the latest thing I experienced: Feria de Sevilla. This unreal festival gave me a week and a half off. It also made me feel like I was living in some sort of fantasy land. I’m going to venture to say those few days will be the only times in my entire existence when I will feel out of place not wearing an insanely huge flamenco dress dripping with ruffles.

I did, however, choose to wear a red flower that took up a good quarter of my head.

Really though, being the only one on the metro without a flamenco dress was weird. Who would have thought?

Then you have lots and lots of little “casetas,” which are little privately-owned tents where everyone gathers and drinks. They all have security guards, which give the whole thing a cool air of exclusivity, but also made it a bit more difficult for us foreigners.

The whole festival was just full of fun, color, lights and good vibes. I honestly don’t think I will ever witness something quite like Feria, with its cluttered streets and its dancing and its soul.

So how do I even summarize my time here, my five months living and studying in Spain? It’s quite daunting. To put it bluntly, my life was fake — or it certainly felt that way. I’ve said that to so many friends and they all ask me what I mean.

Well, I mean just that. My life was fake: too amazing to actually exist, to actually be real.

My classes were difficult only in the respect of being taught solely in Spanish. Otherwise, I had close to no work. My grades are mainly based on a midterm grade and a final grade. This is without a doubt going to make for the rudest of awakenings upon returning to New Paltz.

I have had more free time during these past few months than I have had in years. When I wasn’t in class I was grabbing tapas, having a café con leche, Skyping and lying outside. I have had time for so many things, even sleep, something I’ve been soaking up (sorry Oracle-ites, I’ll be returning to your sleepless world soon enough).

Then there was going out on weeknights, a luxury I sadly have hardly enjoyed since freshman year. Bars abound, every night had something to do and Spaniards go hard. This was made even more possible for me due to my classes starting at either 1 or 3 p.m. How I’m going to manage waking up for an 8 a.m. next semester is something I’m still trying to wrap my head around.

Let’s not forget to mention how wonderfully glamorous it felt to say “Oh, I’m just going to Morocco this weekend,” “I’m flying to Italy during that break” or a casual, “My friends are in London right now.”

Now, I’m leaving in almost exactly a week: leaving the cute little apartment which I’ve made my home, leaving the incredible friends I have made and gotten to know so well. I wonder where all the time went. Wasn’t I just packing for this trip? Wasn’t I just telling people how I was going abroad for the semester? Now I’m coming back.

I must admit that I think after traveling for 10 days following my program, I’ll be ready to make my way back to New York (although I assure you this excitement will fade two weeks in when I realize how significantly more interesting my life was in Europe and how I can’t yet legally order a beer).

(I know you’re going to read this Mom, so instead of getting offended by the previous graf, I want to let everyone know I seriously owe my family at least a limb and a half for making this whole thing a reality.)

But this experience has been nothing short of life-changing and eye-opening and spirit-rejuvenating. So much culture, so much life, so many new people. I have learned so much, I have seen such interesting places and stunning buildings (my university is essentially a Spanish Hogwarts) and I feel so unbelievably privileged to have lived what I have just lived.

I would conclude with it’s been real, but honestly like I said before, it’s really been beautifully fake.

Viva España.