May 15, 2012 marked a special day for me, but more so for my brother and sister-in-law. Nolan William Anderson was born into the world at 2:52 p.m. and was a whopping 21.5 inches long. As an Anderson, we don't disclose what we weigh so you will have to guesstimate. The whole family could not have been happier.

Less than three months later on Sunday, September 9th, Mr. Nolan was baptized and I couldn't have felt sadder. I mean I was thrilled, some would say pumped, that he had a special day all to himself, but I was just disappointed that I didn't get to see the little guy get all dressed up in white and not have a clue in the world why water was being poured on him and who the heck that strange dude with a black and white collar was. I missed an important moment in Nolan's life and now I'm also missing out on Marquette's basketball season and fantasy football. Dang it! 

Studying abroad is, in a way, a sacrifice. You know you are going to miss birthdays, late night study dates in Raynor, the chatter of what ridiculous event happened the night before, the hype before a big game and the genuine feel of being on a campus that turned into your second home. 

Missing all those things is a debbie downer, but studying abroad is a sacrifice that only makes you a stronger, more independent individual. 

Here, in Madrid, you learn to navigate the metro, think about the places you want to travel to become richer in experience, and find out how to convert Euros to US dollars and then become extremely saddened by how bad the exchange rate is. There are countless things you learn that you never expected to, however, the most strengthening experience is finding out how life is on your own, away from the people you rely on most. In all honesty, at times it stinks a little. There are moments where nothing sounds better than a venting session with my mom or moments when I want to be back home with my friends to actually see the humorous stories unfold rather than just hear them. But the reality is that these feelings are seldom once you learn how to brush things off your shoulder, not look back, keep trucking and remember how you're making your own memories with new people. 

A professor and travel buddy of mine told me something really important while in India: you can't control what is out of your hands and what is unchangeable. I heard this over and over before but in India when dealing with technology fiascos and here where I am, for all intensive purposes, on my own it is finally sinking in. I've learned that you can't control everything and that it is actually enjoyable to fly by the seat of your pants. I don't miss being a control freak one bit. I have even been limiting the amount of time I spend with my planner. For those who don't know me well, that is a rather large step for me. Picture a collection of post-it notes and lists color coded for the importance of tasks along with several notes in the margin regarding upcoming deadlines, birthdays, anniversaries and more.  

In the United States I am a plane ride away from my friends or an apartment away from making a lifetime of memories, I'm a button away from a conversation with my mom but here I'm a metro stop away from hanging out with my brand spanking new friends and a room away from my señora who is watching a gameshow. I wouldn't trade one for another because I know there is a time in life where I will always be missing out on something and someone. 

Nolan and I have had some good moments. He won't remember them, but I always will. Jae Crowder also won't remember the time he gave me a high five either, but I will. Studying abroad is a sacrifice, but so is going to a school in Wisconsin away from my family. You just have to make the most out of every decision and moment you make. It's just how life works, so enjoy it while it lasts and don't dwell on what you may be missing out. Now, that's what I call a problem free philosophy. 

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