It’s a little over a week until I will depart on the biggest adventure of my life thus far. I will be boarding a plane to travel half way across the world, to a place that I have only dreamt of.  I have studied, read about and seen movies about this place but now I will be stepping foot on the very land itself.

It is surreal for me to think that I will be in Spain and destination of my dreams. I had fallen in love from afar when I first saw Real Madrid play in person and from there on I took an interest in the city. I began to study Spanish in high school and immediately took to it and later on after three years I knew I had a passion for the language and the land from which it came.

It is strange for me to think that I will be one of the few of my family that has made it back to the land from which our ancestors left almost 600 years ago. To think that I will be seeing parts of cities and a land that they too had seen is hard to believe but also humbling as my trip to study abroad is not only one for study and self-discovery but one of familial discovery.

Since I have studied Spanish for many years, I feel like I have been preparing for this trip my entire life. I have heard stories of our ancestors and their origins, taken classes about Spanish culture and have studied the very language that they speak. But the more that I learn about and discover from my research I know I chose the right destination for myself.

One thing I hope to gain from my experience abroad is to become more confident in my language skills. It is not often that I find myself using my Spanish in my everyday life since in the U.S. we mainly speak English but I hope being in a completely immersive environment I will be forced to use the language, learn and to put myself in awkward language situations where I will have to push through the awkwardness and to navigate successfully.

Part of the experience abroad is to experience the culture and this is one of the things I am most excited about. Madrid is home to some of the most famous pieces of art in their many museums in the city. I’m sure anyone that has studied Spanish, history or art has seen one of the most fampus Spanish pieces, Las Meninas by Diego Velázquez. It is one of the most studied and celebrated pieces of Spanish baroque art and bring many people to Madrid to see the mysterious art piece. I am looking forward to visiting this piece among others in the multiple museums throughout the city.

I am most apprehensive about navigation. I know this is essentially what travel is, navigating my way through the new and unknown places. But the best piece of advice I have been given for this is simply: ask questions. If you are unsure of where you are going, ask. Despite my nervousness for navigating the unknown I am also excited for it. I am excited to travel into uncharted territory with my language and knowledge of the city and country, I will begin one of many journeys to Spain.