Here’s the deal. I found this last month after it was unearthed from a pile of college stuff in Mom’s basement:
That’s the journal you will write when you study in Spain this year. You are going to love every second of living with a newly married 21-year old Sevillian couple named Mercedes and Jose despite the fact that they’ll feed you white rice with canned tomato sauce dumped on it almost every night. You will never get paella and have some zaftig, stunning Spanish mama as your study abroad caregiver, hugging you every time you get home and helping you with your verb conjugations and the local slang. Mercedes will barely glance at you as she slides the lukewarm cheese-filled hot dog across the dinner table, and that’s fine. She’s a young woman barely older than you- cut her some slack.
Most of the time, you won’t even get hot water in the apartment for showers and you’ll end up cutting all your hair off so you no longer have to deal with it and that’s fine too because it’s just hair, and it grows. It will cause quite a stir in the local salon when you ask them to chop off your long, blonde locks, so listen to the whispers about “La Rubia! La Rubia!”. They’ll get a kick out of the weird American, and you’ll feel infinitely lighter and reborn no matter how bad it looks (and it won’t look pretty, but fuck it. Do it anyway.).
You’re going to meet and befriend some incredible people who will have a profound impact on your life and you’ll carry them in your heart alongside that mixed scent of citrus, church incense and hash that permeated the streets of Seville on the hottest days of spring. Please don’t waste your time trying to fit in with the cool crowd or trying to get all of the other Americans in your program to like you. That’s not why you’re there: besides, you’ll find the good eggs. You’ll find the friends worth finding- be they an awesome chick that you met on the very first night, or a gypsy named Jesus that you’ll meet on the steps of San Salvador cathedral. You’ll learn way more Spanish and have a life-changing experience if you ignore most of the rich American kids from your program and look to others for companionship. Trust me. Oh, and if your roommate turns out to be a complete dud with a penchant for sleeping with every Spanish man named Alejandro in the country, so be it. You go do yours and have your fun.
Just stay away from any guys named Antonio, especially the one with the really tight jeans and the grabby hands. Oh you’ll meet him, but walk away because… girl? He’s a tool. Not the Spanish romance you were hoping for.
Speaking of Antonio and his grabby hands: holy christ for the love of GOD Tracy, if a group of Spanish guys you have known for one hour approaches you during your first week abroad and asks you and your 2 new girlfriends to drive with them to a coastal town an hour away for a “party”: do not fucking do it. Not only is it a horribly naive and dangerous idea to get in the car with 4 strange men in a foreign country in the middle of the night like the girls in the movie, Taken, but there is no “party”: there’s an empty club. The whole thing is lame and boring so just make a smart choice and stay out of their tiny cars, okay? NOT THAT I WOULD KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THAT.
Since we’re on the topic of men…sigh. Please don’t waste your precious tinto de verano and jamon-filled time in Spain lamenting about your past college relationships and obsessing over the current ones. I know you may *think* that you loved that guy from this past semester but you didn’t, so don’t sweat it. Don’t waste a second thinking about any of those boys because in the end, they won’t matter to you. Trust me. Don’t look at the past, look all around you in the present and relish the moment! Stand in front of those artworks you dreamed about, hike down those dirt roads in Mallorca, meander through the cobblestone streets during Santa Semana and soak all of that in. THAT matters. Those stupid boys do not. I promise you will meet “the one”, in fact, you already know him well, but you just don’t know it yet.
So there you go. Have fun. Drink wine. Smoke hash. See amazing shit and do inspiring things. Can’t find a ride to hike the National Park of Ordesa? Try a mail truck. Do it! Hitch-hike a little with your friend, I won’t tell. Just do me a solid:
DO NOT GET A TATTOO FROM A BACK-ALLEY TATTOO SHOP WHILE HAMMERED. Why? Because while you think getting this,
Guess what? This is what the tramp stamp will look like when you’re 37:
Just say no.
37-year old Tracy