When I got back from Puerto Rico, I did the same thing with my mom as Zach did with you all. I stood in the kitchen and talked about how much fun I had, how much I cared about everyone and how I was going to miss everyone while I was in Rome. I repeated the same stories and feelings to each family member I have seen this summer.
They all eventually asked me one thing, "Did you learn any Spanish?" The truth is, not really. I have never been good at learning languages. I hated Spanish class in high school, and felt inadequate in terms of my abilities to adapt to different countries. But, I always responded with "I was able to read a paragraph towards the end, but that was it." People were often impressed, as I am known for my inability to learn new languages. The truth is, I could not have done this without Zach.
We were all sitting, waiting to get a tour of the Governor's mansion. We were trying to pass the time, so I started to read a big sign. Zach was sitting next to me, and realized what I was doing. We sat and read aloud the words we knew, and took turns guessing the words we didn't. By the end, we had learned that when Apollo 11 went to the Moon, we had brought a Puerto Rican flag, and had brought it back as a gift.
I think about that a lot. How I would have never learned that without him. I would have given up and never figured that out. As we go abroad, if there's one lesson I could take with me, it's that one. That if you take your time, and maybe get help from friends, you can actually do a lot more than you think.