Back in Boston, it’s hard to believe that we were gone for 5 weeks. Sure, the temperature is about 20 degrees warmer and all of the trees that were bare around campus for the last 6 months or so have bloomed, but everything else has stayed the same.
For now, that’s nice. I can stop by my favorite places. I know how to navigate the T, where I’m going to stop for lunch and plenty of people. After 5 weeks of getting lost, trying new things and being surrounded by a small island of English speakers (most of whom I didn’t know at all before I boarded the plane to Madrid in the beginning of May) it’s good to be home. Yet, somehow, I know this feeling of complete content for familiarity will wear off, and I’m okay with that.
After five weeks of living, studying and reporting abroad, I know that just staying in one place forever will be boring and I won’t find the same comfort in familiarity. When I was reporting in Spain, I didn’t quite know what to expect. I didn’t see limits on what topics I could pick or where I could go, so I didn’t hold myself back nearly as much as I would have here. I ended up in the middle of protests, strangers’ homes and the basement of a political party on the night of an election. By not letting limitations discourage or intimidate me, I found out that many were easily overcome or just plain didn’t exist. I’m going to go to other places, meet new people and see new things. I’m sure that I’ll stumble a little bit (as sometimes happened on this trip) but I also know that in the end, the pros of traveling will ultimately outweigh the cons.
We were very fortunate in Spain. It’s not a country filled with controversy – it’s probably much safer than here, even. Still, we experienced some of the most newsworthy events in the nation in our three weeks in Madrid. From a championship soccer game to elections and the historic abdication of the throne, we lived and reported on some of the most important things to happen in Spain – things that people will remember for years and that will impact the country on so many levels. Maybe there are always things happening there, but if we had been gone to Madrid just a few weeks earlier, we would have missed out on so many opportunities. I’m extremely grateful for everything that I got to see through both the eyes of a tourist and a reporter while abroad.
I don’t know if I’ll ever really become a foreign reporter. I don’t speak any other languages fluently and for the most part I like living in the United States. There are lots of cities here that I’ve never been to and where I think I could find a home and be happy. I know, however, that many of the skills that I learned while abroad will be useful in future work that I do back home. After approaching people who may or may not even speak English, I don’t think I’ll ever be nervous to approach Americans on the street. I’ve learned to find stories in a country and culture that I know little to nothing about, and I’m sure that I’ve become more observant and will have an easier time looking for topics here than I have in the past. I don’t think I ever said anything or let it show, but I was pretty nervous leading up to our departure. Not about getting lost or robbed or being abroad, but about being able to pitch and execute three stories in a foreign country in just five weeks. I guess I might’ve been imagining a worst case scenario, but everything worked out so much better and easier than I had planned. Of course I still had to work for my stories and sources, but I’ve learned that as long as you put your heart and best efforts into your reporting, anything can be accomplished in any place.