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Study Abroad Experience Goes Fast

Adam Auter ’11 – It is hard to believe I have already completed half of a semester since arriving in Valencia, Spain. The weeks here are fleeting, each one taking its own unique form and presenting me with unforgettable experiences. I have had no difficulties assimilating into the culture, and I often find myself envisioning living a life as a Spaniard in the future. For that I believe it is safe to say that Valencia has become another home of mine.

I am incredibly thankful and taken aback by the magnitude and nature of opportunities I have encountered thus far. Highlights include day trips to historical villages on the outskirts of Valencia as well as museums and local attractions, playing pick-up soccer with the natives and other European students, receiving instructions about the tactical and fundamental aspects of soccer from a professor of this program who was once a professional, world class player, attending a local church and meeting others here in Spain who share the Christian faith (an awesome experience!), and volunteering at a local elementary school to serve as a conversational tutor for English classes. Each of these has added to the depth and richness of my study abroad experience, and for that I am forever grateful.
 
Furthermore, next week marks the beginning of “Las Fallas,” which is considered to be one of the greatest festivals in all of Europe. This is the staple that unites all Valencians, and the countdown to the next Fallas begins the day after its culmination. Based on the descriptions I have heard so far, I can’t help but make a quirky connection with Wabash homecoming: the festival is a weeklong event rich in tradition that draws hoards of people causing the population to double; each neighborhood selects their own Falleras (young women who represent the neighborhood in more or less the same way the women of the Miss America Pageant represent their state, or perhaps the way that a 250 pound, hairy freshman represents his fraternity), and each neighborhood also funds and constructs giant floats which can reach up to 150 feet and are destroyed at the end of the week in massive bonfires. While I certainly recognize that this event is far from being the same as Wabash Homecoming, I am intrigued by their common ties that stretch across the Atlantic. I have been told that I will come out of the week as a different person, and for that I wait in eager anticipation.
 
At this point I am looking back at all that I have done so far and also looking forward to the adventures and endeavors of the second half of the semester. Each day I am spurred by the recognition of the countless possibilities that I have at my fingertips. I look forward to sharing more of my thoughts and reactions in the future.

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