I wanted to tell you thank you again for all you do for the program and for all of your help in and out of class. This study abroad experience is one that I will never forget! All of the staff at USAC Bilbao were incredible people who shaped and molded me into a better person; I feel truly blessed to have been in such great care while I was here.
I wanted to share my story with you about meeting my family for the first time here in Spain during this amazing study abroad opportunity.
Upon coming to Spain I was well aware that I had much more family here than in the United States. With this in mind, I decided to take the 20-year-old calendar that my mother had. I first took a bus to Zaragoza where my hostel was, settled in, explored Zaragoza, then the next day decided to take an hour train ride to Huesca (where I thought my family was from). After about 6 hours of looking and speaking to the turismo office, I discovered that the carniceria was actually in Barbastro. After contemplating if I should go or not, we bought a bus ticket to Barbastro.
When we arrived there, Lindsay pinpointed the general location on her maps in her phone (remind you we had no telephone or internet service). We used a general map and found the location we thought it might be in and set off on foot. After walking up and down hill after hill, we were about to turn around. It had been about a one-hour bus ride and an hour of searching and we were exhausted. Lindsay convinced me, however, to just go to the end of the street, so we did. Then we saw a sign that said Bernad Carniceria in big letters.
Lindsay rushed through the back door accidentally (which was extremely awkward), and the shop was technically closed. She asked the man and woman standing there wearing their work aprons (they are butchers) if they knew my grandfather. Hesitantly they said yes (considering he has been dead for almost 2 decades). She also asked if they knew my great aunt (who had passed more recently). They said yes. I then pulled out the old pictures of my mom, and the woman pointed at one and said “That is me!” (in Spanish of course). They both turned out to be my second cousins. From there they took us up to the house of my other great aunt. It just happened to be my third cousin’s birthday (who speaks very good English), and the whole family was there! It was so chaotic and amazing, I will never forget this moment. I had never felt so close to a group of people in my life! At one time there were about 15 people there. After all the tears, hugs, and kisses it was time to leave. My third cousin (the one that speaks English) was going back to Zaragoza that evening, so Lindsay and I rode back in her car and talked the whole way!
Much more happened but I tried to keep it short for reading purposes.This experience will forever be etched into my memory. It was probably the most courageous/adventurous thing I have ever done in my entire life.
I really hope you enjoyed it and please share it as much as you would like, it was like a movie! Thank you again and I look forward to keeping in touch for a long time, thank you and I hope you and your loved ones have a great holiday season.
Sincerely, Brittney Warr
Brittany isn’t the first to discover in person her roots in another country, and she certainly won’t be the last. Is Spain on your radar to study abroad? We currently have four program sites waiting for you: Bilbao / Getxo, San Sebastian, Alicante, Madrid.