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Millie Kirkland’s (’19) Letter from Spain

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Millie Kirkland at Plaza Mayor in Madrid, Spain

Millie Kirkland at Plaza Mayor in Madrid, Spain

Millie Kirkland

Millie Kirkland

Millie Kirkland at Plaza Mayor in Madrid, Spain

Millie Kirkland, Staff Writer

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The following is a letter written by Millie Kirkland ’19 to the student body about her experiences in Spain. She is studying in Spain for the second semester. 

25 March 2017

Dear Harpeth Hall,

I hope you had a wonderful spring break! I’m not going to lie, I’m extremely jealous because we do not get a break until April 10! I am in desperate need of some vacation also!

This is a great place to start with the most common misconception (I had this too!): I am not on an extended vacation. Yes, I am living in Spain, but this is not your typical vacation. I have school every day like back home, and I have to do everyday chores as well. I’m living here which is a lot different than vacationing I’ve discovered.

Today is Saturday morning and I am happily enjoying myself sitting at a table for one in a cute restaurant by the Retiro Park after a relaxing Yoga class. I have been racking my brain, pondering as to whether or not I’ve ever done this- sat at a table for one- and I haven’t. Before leaving, I really thought of this experience as one to learn Spanish and immerse myself in a new culture but the longer I’ve been here, the more I realize it is just as much, if not more, about finding myself. It’s moments like this, eating a breakfast alone, riding the metro by myself and just learning to be myself.
It’s about not having anywhere to be.
It´s about growing stronger as you accomplish new things.
My language skills are better (according to my host family), but if I were to go back now, the noticeable change would be my mental strength.

On the topic of language, it’s so hard. I came in with everyone (myself included) thinking I would be fluent by the end, and I am getting there! Every day there is some forward progress being made, and I still am hopeful that this goal is obtainable!

You are now into the final stretch of things, and I also have almost made it halfway through my journey here in Spain.

I’m going to back up a little bit! To give a synopsis for those of you whom I have not met, and don´t know me, or what I am doing. My name is Millie Kirkland, and I am a sophomore. Over a year ago, I decided to spend the second semester of this year studying abroad in Spain. I researched many programs, until I finally decided on CIEE (Council on International Education Exchange). With the help of the wonderful Harpeth Hall faculty, I was able to figure out a way to receive all of my necessary credits while here.

So fast forward, a year and 2 months later, and I am living pretty much my same life. With one small difference: it’s in another country!!

I live in a town called Alcorcón, located just southeast of Madrid (to put it in perspective: I go to Madrid almost every day… it is sort of like Franklin to Nashville). I live with an incredible host family with a mom, dad, and two daughters close to my age. Like at home, my daily routine (unfortunately) involves school! I wake up, shower, eat breakfast, get dressed (without a uniform, this is actually a fairly difficult task), and walk to school with my sisters! I am in the same class as one of my host sisters, Sandra. In our entire grade there are only 18 people, including me. This has been a bit of a change, but hey, if I’m trying something new, I may as well really go for it! In the class there are also boys. I actually had forgotten how rambunctious boys are, and I live with two at home!!! With boys in class, I feel like we never get anything done! I definitely do enjoy having boys in class though! This is honestly one of my favorite things about living here!

Oh, and everything is in Spanish.

I’m trying to rack my brain because at this point, everything kind of blends together!! Some days, I feel like I have been here for years, while others, I feel like it was just yesterday I was watching out the airplane window as my home of 16 years disappeared below me.

Since arriving, I have…

  • Made new friends
  • Found a “go to” café
  • Written a paper in Spanish
  • Watched a lot of Internado with my host sister
  • Become a yogi (I joined a studio in Madrid, and I have done Yoga in the house every day since I got here)
  • Taken exams in Spanish
  • Travelled to Portugal
  • Shopped!!
  • Explored the landmarks of Madrid
  • Mastered the metro!!
  • Visited Toledo
  • Toured a Spanish University
  • Had photoshoots with my host-sisters
  • Tried lots of new foods (probably one of my favorite parts, Spanish food is incredible)

In closing, like my parents have always told me, it really is all about attitude. I can be miserable every second of every day missing home, or I can take advantage of the time I have here. It’s my decision. I am in charge of my own emotions!

“Todas las personas son tan felices como se deciden a serlo” or “Almost all people are as happy as they decide to be.”

-Abraham Lincoln (written on the wall of my Yoga studio)

For more regular updates: https://lasaventurasdemillie.wordpress.com/

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