A Friendship Found in Spain
I stepped off the bus, my heart pounding. I wasn’t stepping onto the streets of New York, the suburbs of New Jersey or even the farmland of Virginia, where I go to school. I was stepping onto the cobblestone sidewalk of Salamanca, Spain, the city I’d be living in for the next four months.
I had only talked with Molly–the girl I was to be living with–briefly over Facebook and in the airport, and I knew little about her. Our host mother called out our names — “Moli! Raquel!” We glanced anxiously at each other and were ushered into a cab with her. “Calle Ayala, por favor,” she said to the driver, and that was the last thing I understood. She was babbling in rapid-fire Spanish, and Molly and I sat bug-eyed in the back of the cab. I don’t think I said a single word the entire ride.
About ten minutes later we were carrying our luggage up the steps of her apartment and rolling it down the open corridor we’d come to know like the backs of our hands. With a bright smile, our host mother proudly showed us the two bedrooms we could choose from. I put my things in the first room with two twin beds, and Molly put hers in the other.
After giving us time to rest and unpack, we ate a small meal of grilled cheese sandwiches and headed to bed. My eyes were exhausted but my stomach was twisting, so I couldn’t find sleep. Molly lay awake in the bedroom on the other side of the wall, but I wouldn’t know this until later.
Being thrown into this new and exciting environment made our friendship grow that much quicker. We traveled together every weekend, seeing new places from Portugal to Paris, Brussels to Morocco.
Our friendship sparked as soon as we got to know each other, the next day. We laughed about the breakfast our host mother gave us, which wasn’t much of a breakfast at all, and we didn’t stop talking the entire walk into the city center.
That night, after experiencing Salamanca’s vibrant nightlife, we started the walk back to our host mom’s together. I led us in the wrong direction, and we were lost among the city’s dark streets. Although being lost in an unfamiliar city can be cause for concern, I wasn’t nervous. With Molly by my side and our paper map, I knew we’d make it back.
Being thrown into this new and exciting environment made our friendship grow that much quicker. We traveled together every weekend, seeing new places from Portugal to Paris, Brussels to Morocco. We spent our spring break seeing Italy, Prague and Amsterdam. It felt like nothing could stop us. Some of my favorite memories with Molly are from Salamanca. We’d walk to class together each morning, sit through a lecture about Spanish literature, go to the local cafe to get some much needed coffee and pastries, and walk back to our host, talking about what we hoped was for lunch.
Here we were, two college sophomores in the middle of one of Spain’s oldest cities, dancing the night away. There’s no feeling like it.
After chatting with our host mom over an amazing lunch (we adjusted to her pace of speak), we’d each retire to our rooms for a siesta before joining together again for an afternoon adventure or class. Before we went out in the evenings we’d sit in my room and drink wine together, straight from the bottle. We’d talk about our families, our friends from home and what was going on during the trip. After finishing a bottle between the two of us, we’d tipsily walk out, say goodbye to our host mom and set off on whatever adventure that night had in store for us.
One night, for some reason more tipsy than others, we stood at the corner of Calle Ayala waiting for our friends and danced to Miley Cyrus’s “See You Again.” Here we were, two college sophomores in the middle of one of Spain’s oldest cities, dancing the night away. There’s no feeling like it.
About two months into the trip, my boyfriend from back home broke up with me. Molly was there to cheer me up, let me cry and snap me out of it as fast as possible. I hadn’t even known her for that long, but I’m not sure I would’ve gotten through it without her.
Coincidentally, we found out we were living in apartments down the street from each other when we got back to James Madison University. We see each other almost every day, our friends have merged groups and we often talk about our time in Salamanca.
I know we’ll be back.