I was told this would happen but I suppose I had formed the impression that culture shock would not affect me. I now realize how ridiculous this is. When literally everything you have known is upturned and sideways and backwards it is pretty hard not to feel a little lost. I am adjusting to this different way of life but at times it has been very difficult. Around 12 nearly everyday my stomach begs for food and I just gulp down a cup of Spain’s finest coffee and ignore my American hunger. Lunch is usually closer to 3 and dinner is at 8 or 9. This is only one of the miniscule differences that I am still adjusting to.
I think the biggest change I have had to deal with is not knowing anyone. It is easy to feel lost and alone when there are no familiar faces. But it isn’t like I haven’t had to start all over in the past; I am reminded of my first few weeks of freshman year at Whitman. I remember wandering the long hallway looking for open doors and friendly faces and scrambling to find a group to walk to brunch with. I remember feeling overwhelmed by small talk and just wanting to find people I didn’t have to try so hard with. It was scary and new, just as this is but I also recall the spurts of independence and adventure I felt once I got settled. I am a comfort creature I like lists, routines, familiar spaces, and people, so studying abroad for four months was a big step for me but I do not regret it one bit. I have plenty of distractions to keep my mind off of missing home. I think the program was designed that way because we have very little tiempo libre (free time).
This past weekend we boarded the familiar charter buses to the picturesque cities of Ronda y Sevilla. We stopped in Ronda for lunch and got to tour the famous Arab baths. The design of the baths, a hot room (sauna), slightly cooler room for massage, and a final room with a cold pool, is now used in spas worldwide.
We reached Sevilla in the late afternoon and I promptly got on a bicycle and followed my program director through busy cobblestone streets trying not to get hit by a car or anger the locals. This was probably one of my favorite things that I have done in Spain so far. After walking many hours and acquiring countless blisters almost everyday since I’ve been here, zipping around on a bike for a few hours in what is thought to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world was pretty incredible. Sevilla has one of the oldest cathedrals in Spain (built in the early 16th century), beautiful gardens, a river that runs through the city, and a mix of historical sites and familiar stores like Starbucks. If I hadn’t been to Granada before coming to Sevilla I probably would have fallen in love but the kind people and no pasa nada lifestyle has made me loyal to Granada. When we returned on Saturday evening I was so glad to be home en mi ciudad (in my city). I had a new appreciation for the slow moving people on the sidewalks and the tapas gratis (free tapas). Even though at times I feel overwhelmed by the Granadan culture at the same time I am starting to appreciate and enjoy it and Granada is becoming my home.
Professional flamenco dancers. It was amazing!
The palace in Sevilla and me posing in front of it 🙂
(I will post more pics of Sevilla later for some reason they don’t want to upload. 🙁 )