All my life I’ve been wanting to live abroad, to visit countries, to travel, since I was very very little. I always used to tell my dad (that also loves to travel and did it a lot) to help me to do scholarships, to beg him to take me with him in his travels, and in fact, before coming here I’ve been in a few. I used to go in popular places, running, wanting to see everything, just to mark it, just to say “I’ve been here” in my personal map. I never thought that that wasn’t travelling, that that wasn’t knowing new places.
To know a place, to visit a new city it ́s to buy an ice cream and eating it in a square watching carefully all the details, sleeping in a park after finding the most mesmerizing beach, running a lot and climbing a mountain to see the perfect sunset, hearing what the neighbor complains about, learning some words in the local language <3<3<3. Understanding, understanding a lot, contextualizing, loving and trying to be involved in a culture, to really feel what’s happening around you, to be kind to the environment, that is really travelling, that is really knowing a city,
a town, that is a real connecting.
I also thought that I was quite mature, that I knew how to talk with people, that I was respectful, that I knew what to say in the perfect moment. I was so wrong. It’s not that I didn' t respect people around me, but I did everything in the wrong way, so selfish. I don ́t know how
to quite explain, but now I can really see. I can stop all the anxiety that characterize my way of thinking, I can breathe and now I can really listen. Not just the words, I can listen the real meaning behind them. In these two months I’ve have had a thousand of fights, not serious ones, for sure, but they were important because you really start to know how people work, how they think, who they are. You can realize how you don’t know what other people is going through, how complicated can their lives be, and if they weren’t complicated: you don’t know their context, their education, their opportunities. I always had the theory: “Listen, don’t
judge, be kind” but now the real meaning touched me. In this two months I ́ve been diving in other people’s minds, in their routines, in the intention behind their acts, in how easy it’s to understand, in how important is to really speak our minds and to express our feelings. And most important: to stop, to see and to love. To close your eyes and to breathe, synchronizing with everything that surrounds you.
In these two months I learn a lot, but if there’s something that marked me a lot it’s how I' ve been learning to love the beauty of ephemerality. It’s been complicated. Saying goodbye a thousand times with tears in my eyes really broke my heart every time. To love someone so close and then just having the thought of “you may never see them again” I cannot really
explain how difficult, really. Just the anxiety that it provoked me to collect everything that a person can teach you and being sad because maybe you didn’t used all the time the person had to offer, or just the thought of maybe forgetting everything that they have given you in a few years. But after a few late night conversations, with loved ones and myself, I think I’m really ready to start loving and enjoying the perfect-in-time-that-don’t-last-the-time-I-want connections and relationships.
So, as I was saying, this two months, made me realize the real meaning of a lot of things, made me see the real world, made me see myself and taught me the way I want to spend the rest of my days in earth: knowing, learning, loving, enjoying as much as I can.
MARIA BOLLERO GONZALEZ
Maria is a Spanish volunteer in Praxis organization, writing her own experience about the project.