It is safe to say I was an emotional mess the days before and the day of. During those two months I spent every day with my family. My niece and nephew were home and I was able to see their excitement at receiving souvenirs from Spain and France. My four-year-old nephew would go up to me first thing in the morning, and at least once every hour, to tell me, "Karen, I love you" and hug me and give me a kiss. My seven-year-old niece would ask me to go to sleep with her almost every night and when she wanted pancakes, she would come to me and say, "Karen, can you make pancakes? I love your pancakes more than anyone else's". My nephew asked if he could come with me and my niece told my mom that she wanted to visit me in Spain. At the airport, my niece would not let go of me and my nephew refused to see me going past security. I love Spain, but, like always, it was difficult to leave. However, I knew that the best thing will always be for me to leave home, so they can see that one day, they can too. They also made sure to remind me to bring them a toy when I come back!
My whole trip lasted a total of 24 hours, from arriving to IAH until I got to my host parents' home. That was the most I have ever traveled, excluding family trips (by car). I am used to long road trips since we had them often growing up, but this was a whole different story. It may sound silly to some, but I am actually pretty proud of myself because it was the first time I have travelled this far, this long, and on my own. I have always been one to prefer to travel with someone else, but this time it was not happening. I was nervous. I had a layover in Amsterdam and then had to go from Madrid Barajas to Madrid's Puerta de Atocha and take a train down to Córdoba. I like being certain and to know where I am going. Boy did I had to get over not knowing where to go before getting there. I was even nervous about not being able to carry my suitcase -- which happens to be around more than half my height, yes I am short -- onto the train. However, I am safe and sound and in one piece, with all of my belongings, and more confident on independent travel.
It has been a bit difficult to re-adjust to being abroad. For the first few nights I was sleeping three to four hours despite being exhausted. I am back to eating lunch at 2:30 or 3:00 and dinner until 9:30 or 10:00, with a siesta in between. I am back to time differences and difficulties for communicating with loved ones. I had never felt as homesick as I have been feeling, at least not at the beginning of leaving. I miss home. I miss my two little ones. I miss my parents. I even miss my older brother. A few days ago, my niece called me when it was around 7 a.m. in Houston, it was probably the first thing she did when she woke up because she saw an accidental missed call from me. She also called me two nights ago at 3 am my time because she wanted to talk to me, but since I was asleep, she woke up before 7 am to call me before she had to get ready for school. It has been harder than last semester, maybe because I did not have the orientation and basically went from being at home with my family, to traveling thousands of miles and go right back to where I left off. Honestly, I do not know.
With the days passing by, it gets easier. I've hung out with friends and realized I was not the only one that felt this way. I have not been able to talk much to my loved ones but I am getting back in the study abroad zone. I've been out and about in the town, going to the gym, eating chocolate con churros (why go to the gym if I can't also have delicious desserts, am I right?), and taking in the sights of Córdoba. My allergies have been acting up and I know the worst is coming because once Spring is here, the houses and parks will be full of flowers. One of the reasons I decided to do the whole year was to be able to see Córdoba in the Spring and see the patios, so I know I have to pull through and hope that my allergy medication works. I have 88 days until I fly back home and 80 days until my last day of class -- although I only have 20 days of actual classes, which last 7-10 hours each. I have been here for 16 days and it already feels like I have been here a whole month. Each day gets easier, especially when I remember that I am having an amazing experience that not many are able to have. I have 88 days to make my study abroad period a great one and I am determined to do so.
-- Karen Banda