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A Friar in the FOLD

Foreign yet Familiar

Last September, as my parents waited in the hallway with many bins of clothing and boxes of supplies, I slid my PC ID into the door of my DiTraglia apartment. I entered the necessary code, turned the handle, and was met by the greetings of two roommates who had already moved in. I remember that moment, remember stepping into the apartment, remember thinking I had truly made it home. After spending the previous semester navigating the foreign landscape of Sevilla, Spain, the start of my senior year represented a return to the familiar and the comfortable—a return to the university I had missed, to campus pathways I had memorized, to what I knew and loved.

Now, one year later, I have exchanged my DiTraglia apartment for one in Spain’s capital city. As the recipient of a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship, I work with students at a bilingual high school in Madrid. In many ways, I am far from the Providence that welcomed me home during this time last year. I no longer walk across Aquinas quad and witness someone holding the Slavin doors open for another, no longer see St. Dominic Chapel from my window, no longer attend classes in Ruane. At the same time, I am struck by the small things that remind me so much of the College’s community—someone making sure an older gentleman has a place to sit on the metro, the kind words of a priest at the church I currently attend, the excitement in students’ eyes as they grasp a new concept. On these occasions, Providence merges with Madrid. One home helps to create another.

When I walked into that on-campus common room last autumn, my graduation day—May 15—was already circled on the family calendar. Although the date was certain, so much of what would follow was not. Even as I write from Madrid, the picture of this first year as an alumna continues to develop. The landmarks aren’t quite fixed, aren’t as recognizable as the front of Harkins or the height of McVinney. Yet, my experience across the Atlantic will undoubtedly be shaped by Providence, by what it has given me. For I am learning that we carry the friendships we have formed and the lessons we have learned wherever we may go—that despite distance Providence always remains with us.

Abbey Guerino ’16
FOLD blogger