Sunday, September 18, 2011

"Keep Your Head Up"

Music. There are so many different meanings; most people like listening to it or even singing it! And even sometimes, music can trigger a feeling or memory inside of us. It is a feeling that is almost indescribable. It takes you right back to where you were when you were listening to the song, and almost immediately brings back those feelings you originally felt.
The other night I was sitting in my room doing my homework, while my iPod was on my favorite playlist. I made this playlist in early summer and I put all of my favorite songs that make me feel good on it. I have Adele, Maroon 5, Lady Antebellum and many others on it. They all are songs that I can sing along to, or make me feel better when I am down. While I was in the middle of a math assignment, the song “Keep Your Head Up,” by Andy Grammer came on. This song is just a simple” feel good” song, with a big meaning to me.
I went to Spain for two weeks this summer on a school trip. It was my first trip outside of the country without my parents, and my first trip across the Atlantic Ocean. I have been out of the country before, but it was only to Canada and the Virgin Islands. This was different. I didn’t have my mom (whom I am very close with) there with me, and I was with a group of people I didn’t know very well. My mom and I were both very nervous, but I was determined to do this, and to survive it. And my mom was determined to help me in any way she could. My instructor told us to limit communication back home, because he thought it would make us more homesick than we already were. However, I was the complete opposite. My mom and I have a very close relationship, in which we talk multiple times a day-even when we are together.  Not talking to her, and not having very much communication with her for two weeks was going to make me even MORE homesick than actually talking to her. So, I did whatever I could to communicate with her, because I felt better when I knew she felt better.
We were on our way to our homestay for five days in El Puerto de Santa Maria; I was getting nervous about meeting my family. They weren’t complete strangers to me because we had emailed and sent pictures for a while before I left. There is still that nervous feeling about actually meeting someone and being with them. This was going to be our first time completely immersed in the Spanish culture, without our American friends to be there with us. The first night of our homestay was very scary. I felt like an alien in my own word, because they talk so fast that I couldn’t understand them! I was constantly saying “Qu?” or “Com?” meaning “what?” The second I walked in the door of their house, they immediately asked me if I wanted to Skype with my mom back home. Of course, I said yes. The second she popped up on the screen we both started to cry tears of joy. We had been emailing, but this was the first time we had actually talked, and we were able to actually see each other’s faces.
Later that evening, I was still struggling to communicate with my family. They were so nice and they were trying to speak in as much Spanish as possible in order to improve my Spanish, even though they knew how to speak English. The little girls (8 and 10 years old) would sometimes translate into English for me, which was really helpful.
That night while I was going to bed, I was emailing my mom. I was telling her how hard of a time I was having communicating. I was all alone; in my own room; in an unfamiliar house; with people I didn’t really know all that well. It was scary. Soon, my mom responded with a very long email. She gave me a fabulous pep talk and told me everything was going to be okay. She was comfortable with my host family, because before I left, they reached out and sent her an email reassuring her that everything was going to be okay and that they would take good care of me. While I was reading this email (in which I still have today and read if I ever need a pep talk) the song “Keep Your Head Up” came on. This song is a feel good song that tells you to always keep your head up when you are feeling down, because everything will get better. This was the type of song I needed to reassure ME that everything would be okay, and that things would get easier. Yes, my mom had told me this-but it was different when it came from a song. It really got to me and helped me suck it up that night and to have a positive outlook.
Sure enough, my mom was right and so was that song. Everything DID get better and even though I was only with my host family for five days of my trip, I formed a tight bond. We still communicate and I still think about them often. I see their picture in my room every day when I wake up; it is the picture we took as a “family” before I left for Madrid at the end of my stay. I will forever remember those times I had with them, and the great people I met while staying with them.
So that night while lying on my floor finishing my math homework, I thought about that tough night and how I was struggling. But then I looked up and saw the picture of all of us and it immediately brought a smile to my face. Yes it was hard at first, but it got easier as the time went on. And I didn’t want to leave my host family because I was having so much fun. To this day, I tell a story every day about a memory I have of a time I spent with them. Someday I hope to go back and visit and I know I will start by “keeping my head up” and knowing that everything will be okay.

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