I’m a little bit blown away that I have just three short weeks until I jet off to southern Spain to live for a year. Whoa.
There’s a lot on my mind. Little details of course, like how many euros I should order in advance and the still-daunting list of things I need to show my work replacement before the end of August. But my mind’s also flashing back to my first big, solo jaunt into the international world and how much I struggled with all the difficulties.
For those who don’t yet know, I lived in Brasília, Brazil for three months in 2012. It was the best and the hardest thing I’ve ever done on my own, and I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t done it. Maybe I would never have realized my dream of becoming fluent in at least one other language, which means that I may never have become a double major in International Studies and Foreign Languages, and would never be going to Spain to work on my Spanish, or planning on a career in Translation/Interpretation and professional jet-setting.
I will tell you more about my struggles in Brazil as I continue writing, but for now let’s just say that the first month, I never wanted to go home; the second month, I was dying to go home; and the third month, I acknowledged the depth of my discomfort, put myself out there in spite of it, and made a beautiful life that I was then heartbroken to leave behind.
One of the biggest accomplishments, besides finding a wonderful group of like-minded people that became my family, was my acquisition of Portuguese as my first second language. They say the first one’s the hardest, and I believe They are right. It was so hard when I first arrived. It was like a mental paralysis — people would say things to me in Portuguese, I would look at them blankly, they would repeat it in English, and I would just stand there, struggling to make my mouth form words in either language. That’s a bad day, folks, when you can’t even speak your mother tongue.
Naturally, I’m a bit apprehensive about this aspect in Spain. I comfort myself by remembering that I am moving to Spain knowing way more Spanish than I knew of Portuguese when I went to Brazil. I will also be going to Spain with the purpose of studying at a university, rather than going with an empty schedule and counting on the kindness of the universe to guide me to worthy activities. While it’s wonderful to be completely free, those days when companions and recreation are in short supply, the hours can stretch on and you start to wish you had something to occupy yourself.
These are the moments where I just have to let go and trust that everything will work itself out, and have faith in my own abilities. Deep down, I’m sure I will do just fine — even thrive — but at times one can’t stop the midnight thoughts from going too far.