We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.anonymous
I always joke that I was born on a plane. Not literally but my first ever ride in the sky was when I was just seven months old. Ever since then, I’ve considered airplanes to be a home of sorts. Odd that I find comfort in a tin box that hurtles through the sky at over 800 km/h but hey, it is what it is.
I’ve been lucky enough to see some beautiful places across the world— from the Khasi hills I grew up in to the Rappahanock river I went to school on and all the way over to the streets of Valparaíso that I had the privilege of visiting during my study abroad in Chile.
Internationalism and globalism are woven into my very being. I come from a very mixed background and I was always raised to appreciate the differences we find in the world. That means it was never a question of ‘if’ when it came to studying abroad in college for me, only ‘when’. As a matter of fact, I picked Wofford because of their study abroad program. With over 60% of Wofford students studying abroad in some capacity during their college career and programs available in every single continent (yes, even Antarctica), Wofford was the logical and dream choice for my international plans. I’ve worked hard to get where I am today but Wofford made it financially realistic to take my global journey one step further.
I am, for all intents and purposes, a study abroad veteran. So, this time around I didn’t really have any nerves or hesitations. My main problem was simply picking where to go but even then, the choice was easy. I’ve always been a big believer in listening to your heart and trusting your instincts— they’ve gotten me this far!
Why Granada then, you ask? Well, because I knew I wanted to go see the Spain side of things after already getting a taste of the South American side (Chile, te amo siempre) and I adored my Freshman year Spanish professor who was visiting Wofford from, you guessed it, Granada, España. I never even considered anywhere else. I listened to her speak about her city and its rich history and I just knew that that was where I was meant to go. You’ll be pleased to know that I am indeed seeing her again when I get to Spain next week— ¡Hasta pronto, Pilar!
I know that there are many of you who wouldn’t be so quick to jump onboard the study abroad train and that’s okay! There are many different things that factor into the decision like your finances, your academics, your personal circumstances, etc. My advice is simply to combat your fears by arming yourself with knowledge. Talk to your International Programs office, reach out to study abroad alums, and read up about places you might be interested in going to. You can also read through other blogs right here on Wofford’s website that might resonate with you.
But I also know that there are some of you like me who know without a doubt that this is something you want to do and that is equally okay! Like I said, listening to your heart is important.
I can vividly picture what’s about to come in my head— sitting at my gate in Newark airport, boarding pass in one hand and a hot tea in the other, my feet slightly dangling because they never reach the dang floor. I’m scoping out the other people who’ll be on my flight while planes are trailing down the tarmac outside the window in front of me.
Welcome ladies and gentlemen. Flight WC 1854 to Granada, Spain will now begin boarding.
Everyone starts fumbling about to gather up their stuff and line up. I finish my tea as fast as I can and double (okay, triple) check to make sure everything is in place to make loading onto the plane as smooth as possible. I’m thinking about everything that could possibly go wrong— did I forget my shoes, what if they don’t let me on the plane, is my visa actually valid?
I fight the urge to open my bag one last time to check that everything is in the exact same place it was five seconds ago and awkwardly smile at the person I make eye contact with as I take my place in the line. Should I call my mom now? No, I’ll just text her. Okay, quick selfie for the family group chat.
The nerves are dueling with the excitement in a final fight to the death. Was this the right decision? Am I going to fail miserably? What if this is like that Manifest show?
The line shuffles forward and my attention is pulled from my internal struggle to the scene right in front of me. Making sure my boarding pass is at the ready and blowing out a tiny breath, I decide to look outside one last time while I’m still on American soil.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is the final boarding call for Granada, Spain.
Ripping my eyes away from the sheer largeness of the planes outside, I saddle up to the attendant, scan my boarding pass, and nod my head in thanks as the little ding of acceptance rings out.
Just like that, I remember that I’ve waited my whole life for this. I think about the new friends I’m going to make and the old ones I’m about to see again. I think about those delicious churros from Café Fútbol I’ve had my eye on for months and all the places I’ll get to visit with my Islamic Art and Architecture class. I remember how, despite small moments of hesitation, this has always felt so right, and crossing onto the jetbridge, I feel the excitement finally win the battle and a smile of triumph breaks free.
This is it. It’s really happening.