After almost 3 weeks, I am finally beginning to understand what the study abroad staff kept telling us before we left. We didn’t really believe them when they told us that our emotions were going to be up and down for awhile, like a roller coaster. There is the Honeymoon Stage, the Culture Shock (accompanied by acute homesickness), and then finally Adaption way down the road when you finally feel comfortable in a place. As it turns out, they were definitely right. Some days I feel like I’ve got this- I have a conversation with my host mom without feeling super confused, or I do well on an assignment, or I find my way to the other side of the city to meet up with a friend without getting lost. But there are also the days when I feel like it would be so much easier to go home (thinking in another language all the time is really exhausting!) or that 3 more months without my friends and family will be impossible. Talking to my new friends here makes me realize that we’re all in the same boat. It’s harder some days than others, but overall, we’re so glad to be in Spain. We are not just learning about the Roman and Arab influence in a textbook, but actually spending the afternoon walking around the city looking at churches that have arches that reflect the century in which they were built and by whom. This weekend my friends and I went to a discoteca and had an incredible view of the Alhambra, a famous palace that we are touring next week. Every day we learn more about the culture, the history, and the language and every day I am more glad I decided to come.
This last week, my 30-something cousins came to visit me from the Seattle area and I was able to experience a different part of Spanish culture because their budget was a little different than mine. We went to a couple fancy restaurants, and one of them was a Flamenco bar! I had never seen Flamenco dancing/singing and it was amazing! Their visit was also really nice because it helped my homesickness and because I was able to help them order at a restaurant and call a cab since they didn’t speak any English. They were relying on me and that improved my confidence in my speaking skills immensely.
I spent this weekend studying for my first set of exams. I have two at the end of this week and one on Monday that will determine which level of classes I will be in for the next three months. It’s a little overwhelming because it is a lot of information and a lot of pressure to get into the higher level classes so I’m studying extra hard.
They say here that its important to work to live, not live to work, so I’m trying to enjoy each day and not stress out. I like that philosophy.