Today, on my last day as the language assistant at IES Zaframagon, I realized something. To quote Elsa in the song “Let It Go” in the movie Frozen, “I know I left a life behind, but I’m too relieved to grieve.” The life I left behind was my life in New Jersey, and I’m too relieved to grieve. I love my Spanish life, and I don’t want to go home.
Spain has been my home for the last 7 months and every day has been a challenge, a blessing, and a wonder. That’s another thing I realized: I won’t be happy unless I challenge myself. I’ve been at my happiest when I throw myself into a new culture with a new language, whether it was living in Mexico or Spain. My life seems to have meaning when I’m working towards a goal (like learning a new language). In New Jersey, I feel stagnant; there’s nothing new I can learn and nothing is new or challenging. A new job quickly becomes an old job and eventually I will be stagnant again. In Spain, I’m always striving to learn, be better, and discover new things.
My students wrote a few sentences or questions to ask me today on my last day, mostly what you would expect: I will miss you, you’ll always be in my heart, you’ve taught us so much, etc. (and yes, they did this in English! I was so proud!) One student asked me if I like the people of Spain, to which I answered, “Of course I do!” But I started thinking about this question and what makes me like the people of Spain. The people here are different from New Jersey. They’re friendlier, more helpful, and more understanding that I’m struggling with a new language. In New Jersey, you will hear people say “You’re in America, speak English.” In Spain, the people automatically speak slower, full sentences or even Spanglish to help us expats communicate. I love the people of Spain and am not looking forward to going back to unfriendly New Jersey.
And finally, my students made me realize that I really did make a difference in their lives. If I had a video of my first day and my last day, you would be amazed at the difference in these kids in 7 months. I always thought I communicated better with adults, but that’s only because I only had the opportunity to communicate with adults. After working at Zaframagon for 7 months and making some of the best 12 year old friends I could have, I realize my future lies in a school (whether in America or Spain).
I will miss Olvera, Spain, Zaframagon, and all of the people I’ve met in my travels along the way. They will not be forgotten and will always be in my heart. Thank you to everyone who has taught me something or enriched my life in one way or another. Te quiero.