“A personal account of what its like to be a student in a small town”.
Over the past couple of weeks, I have been walking a lot. I take my usual route of going through Plaza Mayor, down Calle Juan Bravo, and in front of the Aqueduct. I like these places because they are always buzzing with people. Whether it’s people going to work, people walking their dogs, or the iconic abuelas, I love observing people just milling around the city, embarking on their everyday activities and errands. I admire these people because they share one common trait that they are Segovians and, they call this place home.
I have been walking because I miss home. Walking reminds me of my long walks in the forest with my dog. When I walk, it’s to see people at home, Segovians in Segovia. When I see people at home, I am reminded of an underlying and ubiquitous comfort. It is the comfort of subconsciously knowing every twist and turn of streets, of having an established routine, and of being where you belong.
Home is a funny concept. What is home? Is it the people, places, memories or a combination of the three that make a home, home? Or is what makes a place home impossible to define? By being such an individualistic and subjective concept, perhaps there is no shared definition. Perhaps, what makes a place home is the product of some unexplainable feeling inside oneself, a feeling that cannot be forced or unilaterally created, but a feeling that naturally arises when a place becomes home.
Frankly, I don’t have the faintest idea if Segovia has placed itself in the running to be a future home. I don’t know if one more semester here will be the catalyst needed to entrench this place as a home alongside my home in Canada. However, there is something special about Segovia. I often get this feeling inside of me that I see as unique to small towns like Segovia. I get this same feeling when I’m back in the small town I call home. However, I don’t anticipate getting this feeling when I move to the big city of Madrid.
Just like the feeling that makes a place home, this feeling I get in Segovia is unexplainable, yet it makes me happy. Nonetheless, there are specific instances when I know that this feeling will arise. For instance, every time I leave my apartment for my walk around Segovia, I am bound to see someone I know. Every time I go to Irish, I will catch up with someone that I haven’t seen in a while. When I need a coffee on a weekend, every time I go to Granier I will see Valeria or Laura working. Every time I go to Shout!, there will always be young Segovians wanting to show the Canadian how it’s done in Foosball. Whenever these instances happen, that feeling arises in me and I feel happy.
What makes me want to write about this feeling is that I know it is not purely a feeling of happiness, it is more than that. It is partly a feeling of happiness, compounded by the frequency and accessibility of this feeling, and with a sprinkle of something unexplainable. By living in a small town, Granier, Irish, and Shout are all very accessible. Multiple times a week I will go to at least one of these places and in turn, this feeling arises frequently.
What worries me about Madrid is not the fact that I will be hard-pressed to find happiness, that’s a bit pessimistic. I worry about the frequency and accessibility of instances that will make me happy and because of that, I worry about not having that unexplainable feeling arise. In Madrid, no longer will I be bound to meet someone I know when walking. No longer will my favourite club, bar, and coffee shop be a stone’s throw away, they will be a couple of metros rides away, maybe one if I’m lucky. Frequency and accessibility will turn into infrequency and inaccessibility.
Looking back on this unexplainable feeling that arises when I’m living in Segovia, maybe this is a sign that this small town is a candidate for a home, who knows. Despite my best analysis of the reasons behind this feeling, maybe I will refind this feeling when I move to Madrid, who knows.
One of the greatest strengths of the human species is our ability to not only adapt to different places but to establish roots, and this inherent trait gives me hope. I’m hopeful that if I walk around the streets in Madrid, just like I do in Segovia, I will inevitably find things that make me happy. Maybe they will be a metro ride or two away, but the journey will also become part of the charm.
It’s the cliché story of the small-town boy arriving in the big city only to realize his roots and return home, and I’m tempted to follow this storyline. In the end, I want to explore Madrid, to find this unexplainable feeling again, and create space for the big city to become a new home.