This past week has been exhilarating and challenging and inspiring and raw. I hiked over 60 miles of El Camino de Santiago in Galicia, a region in Northern Spain. El Camino de Santiago is a famous pilgrimage to the grave of the disciple James in the town Santiago de Compostela. I spent 5 days hiking through fields of wildflowers and tiny rural farming towns.
Here is one of the little rural towns that I passed through while hiking el Camino.
Now back in Sevilla, I am in ‘reality’ mode and have started to reflect on my hike. What did el Camino mean to me? Did I ‘find myself’? Did I find my purpose? Did I have a revelation? Truthfully, I did not.
But el Camino allowed me the time and space to think and reflect on my time studying abroad in Sevilla thus far. I gained a lot of clarity about how my experience studying abroad has shaped me as a person, student and citizen of the world.
Here are some more lessons that I am learning from my time hiking el Camino.
There is so much joy in the ordinary.
While being abroad, one of the most important lessons I am learning is that the greatest moments of joy come in the ordinary. Sure, visiting the Buckingham Palace in London or eating waffles in Belgium were incredible moments that ended up on my Instagram. But I have found so much joy in hiking through tiny towns in Northern Spain, and cultivating an authentic experience.
Embrace the discomfort.
Yes, el Camino was physically hard. I had to duct tape my feet because I had so many blisters, and there were moments that my feet became numb because I had been walking for over 8 hours. But I wouldn’t trade those moments for anything. More than the physical discomfort, studying abroad in Spain has taught me to embrace the cultural discomfort. I have had to calibrate, and re-calibrate my paradigm to Spanish culture.
Between traveling and studying for finals, I have a lot more to experience before I head back to Virginia. I am trying to breathe in each moment that I have left here in Spain. Although my time studying and living in Sevilla may be coming to an end, I am so excited to be taking all of my experiences and lessons learned back to William & Mary!