275 days

As my third semester of college comes to a close, so does my semester abroad in Madrid. I started the following post exactly seven months ago, actually, when I realized I would not be able to go home at all after finals and calculated the amount of time I would spend without taking a single step in my home. And with the start of December and my last few weeks in Spain, I think it’s important I finally finish this post.

275 days equals nine months, exactly. That’s the amount of time I’ll be spending away from home. I’ve gone on and on about how I’ll never live in Florida again, but regardless, it will always be my home.

Spring break this year was the first time I truly appreciated Florida for what it was. New York was (and kind of still is [as of early May]) cold. It was March. I grew up with hot Marches from the time I was born. Cold Marches didn’t exist in my world until this year. So when I went home for spring break, the sweat I felt building up as I was getting off the plane at MCO made me happier than I think I’d been in a while, and I was living in New York City so that’s saying something. The next day, I wore shorts, a short-sleeved shirt and sneakers. No tights under pants, no coat, no scarf, no head warmer, no socks or boots. My legs were seeing the sun for the first time in months. I drove my car, windows rolled down, blasting Taylor Swift and singing at the top of my lungs. In that moment, I thought maybe I’d been wrong to be so ready to leave. The sun, the heat, the water. I was home.

But there’s this article I read once called, “Why Getting Comfortable Is The Worst Thing This Generation Can Possibly Do.” And it’s true. I love New York because it’s hard, always changing, keeps me on my toes. When I decided to stay in New York for the summer, it mostly came because I couldn’t stand the thought of spending the entire summer with Mickey Mouse and 100 degree afternoons. But staying required me to have a place to live which lead me to the position of Program Assistant (summer RA) at my dorm for a high school program. I somehow got the job and while we did go through training, once the students got there, it kind of felt like being thrown to the wolves. But we had a lot of weapons, including each other. My 30 or so fellow PAs, both new and returning, were some of the funniest, caring, and interesting people I have ever met. Everything with them turned into a good time, including, but certainly not limited to, the turning of an after-party cleanup into the world’s best rendition of Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On”.

I started the summer saying goodbye to my best friends and the best first year of college in a new city I could have asked for. And because of this, I also started the summer thinking I would have no friends. And I ended up ending the summer saying goodbye to some more best friends and the best first summer away from home I could have asked for.

I am not going to lie and say I didn’t have a mid-summer breakdown; about spending that much time away from home and familiarity, about how tired I was all the time working 40 hours a week at the Hard Rock Cafe, about feeling like I didn’t know what I was doing with my life. But being able to only call my mom from my bed, instead of crying over her shoulder, made me stronger. I felt more like an adult. I went into the summer not knowing anyone and made friends again (great ones, I might add), something I hadn’t done in what felt like forever. But you adapt; I adapted. I had to. I had to continue to take care of myself, no matter what that meant or entailed.

At this point, I started to realize the magic number of 3. It was about 3 weeks into the summer that I stopped being so sad about not having my best friend by my side all the time. It was about 3 months being away from home that last time in March that I realized how long it was going to be and how strong I would have to be. I was going to move to the other side of the world until the end of the year. By myself. Where I didn’t speak the language.

My journey from the end of the summer and on has been a very interesting one. I hate the abrupt ending of this post, but the story of my European Adventure and Attempt at Becoming Bilingual will be published shortly. Standby.

Always,

Blake

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