Nicole Burdiss - Segovia, Spain
Being flung into Segovia's ancient labyrinth of history shortly after landing in Madrid was overwhelming to say the least. I'd never lived in a city before, and Segovia was different than any city I'd ever been to. Through the bus window, Segovia welcomed me with its famous castle and aqueduct, gorgeous plazas, and diverse neighborhoods I'd spend much of my time wandering over the next six weeks. After a whirlwind of meeting my host mom, Julia, at the bus station, I was happy to find that we had no problem communicating in Spanish. At a lull in the conversation, a million different questions started running through my head: where is the school, what was my routine going to be like, will I make friends here? Julia saw I was getting overwhelmed, and said the words I would hear constantly throughout my time in Spain, "No pasa nada, guapa, tranquila," which basically means "relax, no worries," and sent me to my room for siesta. I got to my bed and took a nap, as I would almost every day for the next six weeks. When I woke up, I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be. Siesta ended up becoming one of my favorite things about Spain. Every day after eating lunch with my family, I'd go to my room and write in my journal, read my Spanish politics and paintings textbooks, take a nap, or relax in the sun with my friends at the community pool. After siesta, we would get tapas or café con leche and enjoy each other's company while practicing our Spanish. Spanish culture taught me that slowing down every day to reflect and unwind is good for the soul.
The "no pasa nada" mentality leaked into every aspect of how I lived in Spain. It's something I internalized and will remember for the rest of my life. In my free time in Spain, I would take walks in the beautiful gardens, explore the Jewish and Arabic neighborhoods, and people-watch while drinking drink café con leche at outdoor cafes. Every single day I made a point to soak in every drop of Spain that I could. My classes had a relaxed atmosphere as well. In one of my classes, we would frequently go on adventures around town, learning about Segovia's rich cultural history, and see the past illustrated in the architecture. By the end of the program, I couldn't walk down a street without subconsciously naming what era each different kind of wall was from. I couldn't pass a church without the architecture silently telling me a story of its Arabic, Jewish and Catholic past. Eleana, my Spanish art teacher, was one of my favorite people I met in Spain. She showed us around castles and museums, and told us the most amazing stories she accumulated during her years at art school. Her relaxed nature, quirky personality and passion for Spanish Art and History had an incredible impact on me. At the end of the program we went to La Reina Sofia and El Prado, two very important art museums in Madrid, and actually saw all of the amazing art we had learned about. I've never been so thrilled at a museum!
My time in Spain already feels like a lifetime ago. I know I lived every moment to the fullest, and the memories I have of my Spanish summer are sharp and readily available for daydreams. I just have to remind myself, "No pasa nada, tranquila" and pretend I'm there.