Building a home away from home: A story of one Duhawk settling in Santiago, Spain

by Ashley Pudil

Saludos de España! Greetings from Spain! It has only been two short, yet busy, weeks since I crossed the pond to my new home for the next three months: Santiago de Compostela. Since I arrived, I have been pushed completely out of my comfort zone: speaking Spanish everywhere (and I do mean everywhere), living with a host family, navigating a city full of twisting and turning streets, attending my first week of classes at USC, and working at my internship, all while keeping in touch with family and friends from back home. However, even though I am in a completely new place I am finding it easy to find a home away from home here.

Honestly, I did not think that I would be going to a different country to study abroad, ever. Especially in a foreign language, no less! If someone would have told me that I would be studying abroad in a country where I have to speak a foreign language 99 percent of the time, I would have told them they were crazy. Yet here I am, sitting on my bed in my host family’s apartment where I can easily glance out my bedroom window and see the red rooftops of the tall Santiago buildings and the streetlights below, covered by a sheer curtain of drizzling rain. People are absolutely right when they say Europe is a beautiful place.

Even though I am building a home here, I am still unsure of what Spain has in store for me. One thing that I have heard from a lot from Duhawks who have studied in Spain is to “aprovechar!” meaning to take advantage of, well, every moment and experience. This experience only comes once in a lifetime, and even though I hope to return to Spain later in life, that does not mean I should let moments slip by. While I experience all this, I want to share it with all of you. This includes the good and the bad, the struggles and triumphs, the happy topics and frustrating ones, about studying abroad. If you’re a friend, an acquaintance, a professor, or someone I have not met yet, I encourage you to keep reading and following this crazy, wonderful journey I’m on. And hey, everyone could use a break from the hectic schedule of daily life, right?

Here’s to three months across the ocean, to hoping my seven years of studying Spanish helps me out, and to aprovechar-ing every moment.

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