It has been a little over three weeks now since I first got here in Spain. There is so much I have seen and am learning, it’s hard to put into words what I’m processing. However, I hope that blogging will help in this process of reflecting and remembering my time here. The culture here is different obviously, and it took me about two and a half weeks to some what settle in. Time here is slow and the nights are long. One of my favorite customs of this culture is the mid afternoon siesta (nap). Right after lunch (which is the biggest meal of the day) we take a nap for about an hour. Before I came on this trip, people told me about Spaniards taking siestas in the afternoon and I didn’t believe them. I am here to tell you it’s a real thing… a custom I wish America would take on, honestly. Although the time is slower here, people still work hard. I am sure there are some lazy people here too, but from what I have observed at my internship… my supervisor takes her work very seriously. They are diligent in providing and accommodating for the clients they work with every day.
One element I have been struggling with is the language. I knew it would be something I would have to adjust too, but I didn’t know how that adjustment would look. The first week I got here, I was incredibly focused and driven to understand the language fully. However, the more I tried to learn, the more complex it became. Heather (knowing Spanish, and fluent) has been helping me daily, which makes a huge impact. When I am not with Heather, it can be very difficult for me to do the simplest tasks. Even doing simple things like buying something from the store or going to the beach alone can be challenging. Being an extrovert, I have never had a problem with asking help from someone even if I didn’t know them. In Spain, the way I engage with people around me and the culture is completely different. A new form of worry began to develop within me. I felt so left out excluded from people. However, no one was intentionally excluding me. The reality was, I couldn’t speak therefore I couldn’t engage in the most common and easy way: talking. It took me at least two weeks to adjust to this reality. It was not easy, and I knew it was going to be… I guess I just didn’t understand how this difficulty would effect me. The adjustment part was hard and studying abroad isn’t easy at times. Though you may see all the beautiful pictures via a blog or social media, cultural adjustment is hard. I will be honest and say I was not having the time of my life the first two weeks. This is the reality of adjusting to a culture that is not your own, and I believe these cultural adjustments come in waves, as well. Sometimes things will be going great, and you’ll forget that your in a foreign country and then other times… you miss the familiarity of your own culture.