I cannot believe it has been 2 years since I left to study in Spain. I don't think I am ever going to stop daydreaming about the 5 months I spent in Europe. The girls I lived with as well as the ones we met feel the same way. So for my 2 year JTA anniversary, I will share the 10 things I truly miss about my JTA.
Even if I did not travel almost every weekend (I feel like my schoolmates traveled more often than I did), I realised that I traveled every single month. Though I only went out of the country thrice (Paris and Belgium in March, Portugal in May), my roommate Joey said it's better to explore Spain instead to see what our country had to offer. So we planned our trips together because I decided to join her. Travelling around Europe was easy and "affordable". I'm saying it was affordable because our trips were spread out in the 5 months we were there and we tried to get the cheapest options available. We made sure not to spend too much on hostels and transportation because travelling costs a lot of money as it is. There will always be cheaper alternatives as long as you plan ahead of time.
I always long for cold weather and the winter season excites me because I live in a tropical country. I remember when I would check the weather app weeks before my trip to see how cold it would be and if it was snowing. I have seen snow in Switzerland - It was a dream come true! But I have always wanted to experience falling snow, and I did! More on that here.
Also, cold weather means winter wear. I LOVE winter fashion so I tried to take advantage of it. You look so cozy and put together if you complete your outfit with a nice coat, scarf, and boots. However, I hated that my lips kept drying up but I prefer that than sweating because you can always fix it with a good lip balm.
I HATE the heat unless I'm at the beach.
As you can already tell with my posts in this blog, I love food. I miss the food so much but I think it's normal to miss the food or cuisine that's not easily accessible or affordable in your area. When I was in Spain, I missed Filipino, Chinese, Japanese, and breakfast food. Heck, I even missed the calamansi flavoured Pancit Canton while I was there (we asked Julian's mom to bring Pancit Canton and a rice cooker for us haha).
I know I've mentioned food already and you might consider this cheating since it's in another number but I miss the affordable and tasty wine and other local food. You could get a bottle for less than €10 and that's around PHP550 or less. Manchego is also expensive in the Philippines so being able to buy the cheese at a local grocery store for a cheap price was definitely a bargain. As for the chorizo and jamón, you don't even have to go far nor spend a lot, you can easily find delicious ready made slices at a convenience store.
I remember the girls and I would always wonder what song the people were blasting in their cars. Almost every song had the same beat. Later on we found out after nights of partying (hehe) and word of mouth that it's not just one song. It's a genre of music called Reggaeton which originated in Puerto Rico. Most Reggaeton music have the same beat which was what we kept hearing in people's cars whenever they drove by. Honestly, we found it funny because we were not used to the sound and it was hard to get used to dancing to the songs they play in clubs. In order to blend with the crowd, we listened to the hits of 2015, memorised a few lines then we grew to love them.
Here are two spotify playlists of the top Reggaeton music of 2015 (Hits during the time we lived in Spain). Listen to El Taxi!
Watching football was a lot easier in Spain because European Football would happen either in the late afternoon or evening at 8 or 9 PM. Watching here in the Philippines is harder because I would have to wake up at 3 AM or 5 AM to watch the live match on TV or stream it online (which is such a hassle). I miss being updated, I should get back to watching football matches again but I value my precious sleep.
Also, it was so easy to book a last minute trip to Barcelona just to watch FC Barcelona play at La Liga (we were so lucky because match tickets were cheap and our hostel was just €4.90 per person).
Of course the very school I attended has to be part of this list. If it wasn't for their partnership with my school in the Philippines, I wouldn't have had the best 5 months of my life. The people were pleasant and my university is beautiful, it gave me that foreign university vibe. I especially miss my school's library and gym. It was so convenient because UCLM is so close to the dorm we lived in. Also, my school had incredibly fast WiFi, Julian ended up downloading so many movies within an hour!
#Pretentious HAHA but honestly, I miss conversing in Spanish. I chose to go to Spain because I thought I was familiar with the language considering the background I had in high school and college but I was wrong. Speaking to locals is a different story but we took a class to deepen our basic knowledge. In our second month of living in Spain, we were more comfortable conversing Spanish. We could order and speak to cab drivers in Spanish which made going around Spain easier and more fun. Experience is always the best way to learn. The locals will appreciate you even more if you try.
I am close to my college block-mate Julian, so I was even more convinced to study in Spain because she also applied to the same school. I got closer to Joey and Paulina (the two other girls who also chose UCLM-Cuenca) during the JTA semester we took before leaving. We had an iMessage and Facebook chat to plan everything we needed for Spain such as our residence and flights. We even shared photos of the coats we got on sale from Zara, etc! I'm so thankful our group got along. 2 years later, we're still dreaming about our whole experience because no other experience could compare nor beat what we shared in Spain. I believe we shared a special and irreplaceable bond (Girls, if you're reading this, TYSM AND IMYSFM FAM).
We also made new friends thanks to the ERASMUS group our school had. Some of them even traveled with us. It was great to meet people from different countries because we were able to share our culture and experience back home with them and vice versa.
Last but DEFINITELY not the least, I loved the freedom I had when I was abroad. That was when I found myself and enjoyed time alone. Being far from home allowed me to reach a whole new level of maturity and responsibility. I realised that I can handle life alone and not depend on my family and friends. I did miss them but it was great to only worry about myself and do things at my own pace for once. It sounds selfish but don't get me wrong, I also took care of my friends while we lived in Spain to a point where they called me mommy Caly haha.
I truly am blessed to have had this opportunity. I will forever treasure and be thankful for the time I spent in Europe. I suggest you apply if you're from Ateneo or any school that has exchange programs. If the opportunity to go abroad even for a short while arrives, take it. I was hesitant at first because I am very close to my family and I did not want to leave them behind but I did not regret anything. I learned so much about myself and the world around me (how cliché).