Updated: Apr 25, 2020
This past summer I had the opportunity to study abroad for a FULL 2 months in Spain without my family. I love my husband, my daughter and my dog, but I desperately needed a space where I could just be me and complete my studies. For the past 2 years I had been working slow and steady towards completing a certificate in business Spanish. Both my husband and I were in school at the time and two parents in school with a 4 year old makes for a MAD HOUSE.
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While in Spain, I ate delicious food, discovered my love for mudéjar- islamic influenced architecture and made lasting relationships. Most importantly I rediscovered my identity outside of my family. I discovered that I can boldly enter new spaces. I experienced being black in Spain and how my blackness is perceived in small locales versus urban settings. For example, in small town Salamanca, I could sometimes feel eyes on me as I walked across the street. For some reason charming older abuelo type men liked to approach me to discuss where I am from, how I like Salamanca and politics. This stands in strong contrast to Barcelona, where I did not stand out among the crowd. Rather, I was just another tourist, student or dark skinned traveler enjoying the city of Barcelona. Both experiences were enriching and neither of them negative, just vastly different.
I learned how independent I am from my adventures. One night I found my self walking back to my apartment building alone at night when I got caught in the rain. I quickly popped into a local bar and thought to myself this might be a good time to try churros, but I was wrong! The bar tender and the locals in the bar kindly explained why you should never buy day old churros. The bartender gave me a free churro to try and everyone gathered to watch my reaction. I took one bite then crinkled my nose and laughed hysterically. Everyone joined in the laughter. It turns out day old churros are chewy and bitter! I sat down with the locals enjoyed a cafe con leche and chatted a while until the rain stopped. I eventually made my way back home safe and sound. The experience of bonding with locals in this small town over churros was one that I am so glad I got to experience.
Overall my time in Spain taught me that as a mother, wife and student, I am still me. My identity craves adventure, travel, language and culture. These are my inherent traits that I have to satisfy. When people know you are a mom and you tell them you will be leaving the country, they always ask, but who will watch the baby?!!? It is amazing how many times I was asked this question as though my husband did not even exist. Luckily I do have a supportive husband and a supportive extended family as well. That being said, as a mom you are expected to sacrifice your identity to care for your child. However, you can have both! I know that for me to be my best self I need to do the things in life that keep me happy, healthy and sane. For me that is travel, studying and working in foreign languages. I encourage you all to invest what you can into those ventures that bring you joy. Thank you for reading my blog, your venture awaits!
Photo taken while traveling via train from Salamanca to Barcelona