It’s almost impossible to believe that my last day in Cádiz has come so quickly. Two weeks really flew by, and I wish so badly that I could stay here for longer. It feels like so long ago when I first stepped off the bus into this amazing, unique city. I have gotten so settled into the Spanish routine that I know it will be a weird change when I have to get back to the American one. These streets and plazas have become so familiar to me, and now I could know my way around this city blindfolded.
On Thursday for class we interviewed people in the street about movies and going to a movie theater in Spain. Then my friends and I did some shopping near the marketplace, buying some final gifts and last-minute souvenirs. Later in the afternoon I took an optional trip to La Puerta Tierra, which is the old city gate and entrance to the city. We had a fun evening activity, where the whole group went to a Tetería, which is a Moroccan tea house. It had a very relaxed ambiance and there were tapestries and beautiful lanterns hanging inside. I tried a peach tea, which was very good and came in a cute, little silver teapot! Today (Friday) after my final class at the school, some of us took a trip to an old woman’s hospital, where we got to see the famous El Greco painting of Saint Francis. At 4pm I went to an optional cafe and conversation activity, where several of us got sodas and sat outside at a cafe, talking with one of our teachers, Estefanía, in Spanish and answering fun questions. Afterwards I had my elective of culture and conversation with our other teacher, Gema, and we sat in Plaza Mina to discuss Spanish geography and population facts. Tonight was also my final meal with my host family. I know it will be very sad to say goodbye to our host mother tomorrow morning. Staying with a host family has been an incredible experience and has helped my knowledge of the Spanish language immensely. It has also been wonderful staying in their house and being fed all of these delicious meals.
My time spent in Cádiz with Abbey Roads has opened my eyes to so many things. Not only have I made friends from all across America and even other countries in Europe that I will continue to stay friends with even when I go home, but I have also had the absolute pleasure of experiencing life through the eyes of a Spaniard in an unforgettable city. My speaking and comprehension abilities in Spanish have improved a lot, and I have even started to pick up common Spanish slang and phrases. I know so much more about the history and culture of Spain, especially of the city of Cádiz. I, myself, have even seen how different Spain really is from the way it is portrayed in classroom textbooks. From just these past two weeks, I have enough photos and memories to last a lifetime. I will never forget the narrow streets which force you to press up against the walls when cars come by, or how crowded La Caleta beach gets on Sundays, with umbrellas upon umbrellas forming a quilt-like pattern next to the sea. I will never forget walking through plazas at 12am and seeing young children playing soccer or witnessing a birthday party happening with a cake, candles, and singing. Nor will I forget the ghost town Cádiz turns into from 3-6pm when everyone is asleep in their homes during the siesta. And of course I will not be able to forget the delicious food, such as the churros, chocolate croissants, bread, smoothies, fresh fruit, and especially the endless flavors of gelato.
All in all, this has been a trip of a lifetime. I am so grateful to have had this experience and have such great program directors and teachers. Cádiz far exceeded my expectations and I love it here more than I could have ever imagined. As Ibn Battuta once stated, “Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” This trip has left me awestruck, and I certainly will have many more stories to tell when I return home.