by Collyn Bassett
Looking out of the airplane window, I focused in on the olive trees that appeared closer and closer as we approached the landing strip. A sense of relief washed over me knowing that I was done with the long day of travel, but I remained anxious to arrive in Andalucía, Spain. All I knew was that I would be in a place that is known for their olives, and I would be attending school at the University of Jaén. Once in the car to Jaén, my mind seem to race as fast as the olive trees that zoomed by my window. I started to wonder what I was getting myself into. Would I make friends? Would I feel homesick? Will my roommates like me? All of these questions and more raced through my mind. At one point the driver looked back at me and said, “Estamos aquí,” and I looked up and realized I made it to Jaén. This city meant nothing to me at that moment, but it is everything to me now.
Although I made it, I still had those recurring questions. The oblivion that would attach itself to me would be calmed by only one thing after arrival: café con leche (coffee with milk). I met up with my future roommates (not knowing the adventure we would soon take on together), and agreed that we were starving after traveling so far. That night was the first of many meals together in a coffee shop in Jaén. I remember smelling the café con leche and taking the first sip, realizing that I was going to be just fine. Even on my worst days, coffee was something that made me feel temporarily okay. And on my best days, it made me feel even more pleasant.
My time in Jaén was amazing. But I will admit that I had my moments. My worst moment was the day I shut my roommates out because I was so homesick. After explaining my thoughts to them, we decided to go back to the same coffee shop and listen to live music over a tostada and café con leche. They told me a common phrase that became my motto for the rest of the semester and continues to be a common promise to myself now. They said, “No pasa nada, todo está bien,” which means “don’t worry about it, everything is fine.” Truthfully, without that phrase, and some extraordinary coffee, I would not be writing this wishing I could return to that coffee shop just one more time with my roommates. Each moment was a new lesson and a new trial that will continue to shape my life forever. When you are facing a new challenge, embrace it. You will find a way to persevere and grow in ways that are unimaginable to you now!
Collyn is a junior Luckyday Scholar majoring in Spanish. She was one of the recipients of the 2017 Luckyday Study Abroad Scholarship and studied abroad in the spring of 2017. This scholarship is open for Luckyday Scholars who are in at least their second year of the program, have at least 30 credit hours, have a minimum GPA of 3.0, are in good standing with the program, and who submit a scholarship application. The 2018 Luckyday Study Abroad Scholarship is open through September 30, 2017, and is available to scholars through www.usmfoundation.com/GO. The Luckyday Program generally funds 10 scholars each year with each scholarship totaling $2,000 or $4,000 depending on the length of the study abroad program the student chooses. Our 2018 recipients will be named at the end of October.