When I was sixteen, I went on a youth group trip to Mexico. Our first morning there, I sat in a Sunday school class and listened to a lesson in Spanish. At the time, I spoke no Spanish. I had taken three years of French. I panicked. I called my dad, collect, to sob into the phone. I just wanted to go home.
I didn’t go home, of course. I stayed, and I had an amazing trip. I met amazing people. I made amazing memories.
Yesterday, I arrived in Madrid. I went through the motions of the day alongside others, too exhausted to process much of anything. I could not make my brain switch to Spanish. I skipped the 9 o’clock dinner and slept. I slept all night.
This morning, I woke in a panic. I wanted to cry. I wanted to go home. It is no different than Mexico when I was sixteen, because there is one thing that has never changed about me.
I am autistic.
Transitions are hard for me. They wreck my equilibrium. A number of factors can affect how long the anxiety will stymie me. I know it is temporary, though how temporary varies from transition to transition.
This morning, it is bad. I am shaky and tired, despite a full night of sleep. I have a placement test this morning, but I cannot focus on Spanish. I need to review conjugations and other basics, because I have not been in Spanish class since April. People speaking to me in Spanish, right now, is too much for my brain. When in this state, my brain will seek comfort at all costs.
However, somehow I need to do a little shopping this week, and I want to learn to manage the metro. If I can manage the metro, my confidence will go up a bit, and I will feel a bit of freedom. I think. We’ll see. I have to beat this.
I wish I had someone to help me make this transition, someone to walk me to the metro and show me how to purchase a ticket, etc, someone to teach me the basics of the city while not in a group of other students. Basically, I wish I had a friend in Madrid, but I don’t. I did, but she moved back to the states last year, so I am alone on this one.
Why didn’t I study abroad in London? Yeah, they don’t speak Spanish there, and Spanish is the point of my studying abroad, but I do know people in England at least. Right?
Welcome to my brain in stress.
Welcome to Spain.