Happy Holidays, everyone! I’m Natalie Hobson and I’m a junior in Delta Zeta.
Gosh, Christmas came so soon! I can’t believe it. The holiday season is my absolute favorite. Everything is so cozy and cheery, every house on the street puts up lights, and calories don’t count – right? (Considering I have quite the sweet tooth.)
However, for me, this Christmas was a little bit different. I’m over 4,000 miles away from home. It will be my first Christmas not spent in North Carolina with my family. This year I’m in Sevilla, Spain, where I’ve been studying for the past four months. It will be my 116th day abroad. I’ll be here for the Spring semester, too – yup, a whole year – but more on that later.
In the past 116 days, I’ve been to twelve cities in five different countries. I’ve tasted a bunch of new foods, spoken a ton of Spanish, and learned a bit about la cultura Sevillana. I’ve also created a modge-podge of a new family; my host family and my new friends. It’s been the busiest, most adventurous 116 days of my life, by far. Everyone thought I was a little crazy for going abroad for an entire year, especially the ones who know me well. I must admit, I’m a bit of a homebody, so I’ve experience my share of challenges at times. I miss my favorite American foods (biscuits and sweet tea come to mind) and my family. I think about my friends at USC every day and I daydream about Delta Zeta’s famous Friday brunch way too often.
But at the same time, in the past 116 days, I saw the Spanish Royal Palace, visited the oldest European synagogue still standing, spent a day on a Portuguese beach, toured the Alhambra, looked out over the Cliffs of Moher, became friends with Irish ponies, read the Book of Kells, hiked the Spanish countryside, explored Prague Castle with one of my best friends from home, went to the top of the Eiffel Tower, and walked the grounds of Versailles. I’ve figured out how to book flights, buy train tickets and navigate bus systems. I’ve learned how to say “Good day!”, “Thank you!”, and “Where’s the bathroom?” in at least three languages. The list could go on and on.
Studying abroad is such a blessing. As corny as it sounds, I am truly amazed every day by the experiences and incredible opportunities that await me. I’ve come to love Spain and its people, who are full of life, character and kindness. It’s been an unbelievable journey so far and I’m not even halfway through.
One aspect of Delta Zeta that I’ll always be thankful for is the sisterhood I know I can always depend on. This year, that’s meant being able to text my sisters for some encouragement or to tell them a funny story about my day from afar. I love knowing that they’re always there, even if they are thousands of miles away. In the spring, a bunch of our sisters will be abroad, and I absolutely cannot wait to visit all of them in their different cities! As for me, I just found out that one of my sisters will be my new roommate next semester here in Sevilla. What are the chances?! I am seriously so lucky. Delta Zeta has always been my home away from home, and that still holds true, whether I’m in Columbia or exploring Europe.
So, once again, Happy Holidays to all of my lovely sisters and their beautiful families – I miss you all so, so much! Thank you for your sweet messages while I’ve been here – I don’t know what I’d do without you guys. ¡Les extraño mucho!
In the Flame,