I’ve heard people say that you should never say ‘good-bye,’ as you never know who might wind up back in your life in the future. This could not be truer for me. In high school I hosted an exchange student from Spain named Ana. She lived at my house from August to December, and when she left at the end of the year, I sadly thought I’d never see her again.
However, as fate would have it, I ended up minoring in Spanish, leading me to be in the same country as Ana! I knew I couldn’t spend five months in Spain without visiting her at least once, so we made plans at the beginning of the semester for me to come visit.
I was really fortunate to have hosted her when I was in high school, as her adventure taught me so much about what to expect for my own. I could finally identify with all the language struggles she faced in the United States and all the feelings she felt as she adjusted to American culture.
Living with her also taught me the customs of Spaniards prior to flying to Spain. When she was living with me, I had no idea how many of her mannerisms were so typically Spanish.
I think the weirdest adjustment in our friendship was the shift of languages. When she was living with me, I could barely speak a sentence of Spanish. Oh how the tables have turned! The entire weekend we spoke only Spanish, and I became the one with the weaker grasp on the language. While it was difficult at times, it was also an important reminder for myself of how far I’ve come. Almost two years ago I could barely say a phrase to her, and now we were having almost fluent conversations in Spanish. It’s amazing what a semester abroad will do for your abilities!