It’s hard to believe our time here is almost done. In a week and a half I’ll be boarding a plane back to San Diego with a suitcase packed full of souvenirs and a heart packed full of memories. It’s going to be bittersweet, leaving this place I’ve learned to call home. Valencia has become familiar. The busy streets outside our window no longer keep me awake at night. Instead they’re woven into my sleep, like an urban lullaby I might actually miss when I leave.

When I left the United States, I was afraid it would be difficult to make the transition to Spanish life. I’d always been timid and much too afraid to step outside of my comfort zone. But I’ve grown so much in these few short weeks, and I have already learned quite a bit about myself. What once seemed daunting is now nothing compared to other roadblocks. For example, I’d always found it difficult to communicate with people I didn’t know—strangers on the street, new acquaintances in class, anyone. Now I’m finding I really want to talk to these people, to get to know them and hear their stories. What’s holding me back now is my lackluster Spanish skills, and though most people here are very gracious and accommodating to my sad American self, I can’t always express everything I intend to from behind the language barrier. Even so, I know this is a good thing. If my only frustration now is the inconsistency of language, it’s going to be so easy to go home and talk to people. And as a journalist, that’s the most important thing.

I’m beginning to understand that most people are good, and aren’t as bothered by me as I’d always assumed they were. People want to tell their stories, and I’m excited to help them do it. Tonight I’ll be joining a classmate and my professor to document the first portion of our final project. It’s my first real venture into reporting in another country, and I’m excited to start.