I have been in Spain for 105 days. I know that to you that may not sound like a lot but can you imagine living somewhere completely unlike anywhere you’ve ever lived before for a total of 161 days? A whole freakin’ lot can happen in those days, and yet it simply isn’t enough time.
I have gone to more schools than I have fingers on my hands and have lived in even more houses. I know how moving around works, and I like to think I’ve gotten pretty good at it. I know how to unpack an entire room in just a few hours. I know how to walk up to a random group of people on the first day of school and make friends. I know how to make my presence known when necessary but I’m just as capable of becoming a wall flower. I know how it feels to leave people and I know exactly what I need to do to make it easier for myself when I go – my methods on that one could be improved for the sake of others but they do work for me. Moving around so much has prepared me for a lot, including my move to Spain. I was always pretty confident but good God it’s a whole other level of humiliation to have to walk up to someone and ask where your campus is in relation to your current location while you try not to stumble over your second language. It’s not easy having your family in a time zone 9 hours behind your own so that the only time you can Skype is the weekend. It’s not fun when you had a good group of friends back home and you come to a new place and realize it’s hard to find such quality friendships wherever you go. Living somewhere new is hard enough when they speak your language and there are no cultural barriers. But this post is not for me to complain. It’s for me to appreciate.
I speak Spanish with a fluidity now that I never thought possible. I never get lost in Murcia and I can even show other people how to get where they want to go – for those of you who know me well you may be surprised considering I can barely find the mall in Temecula – but it’s true. I Skype with my family on the weekends and if I’m not already messaging them on Whatsapp every day I’m using Whatsapp to call them – freakin’ amazing development by the way, well played Whatsapp. I may have had a wonderful group of friends back home but times change and people change and while I will always have such wonderful people in my life, nothing is the same when you come back from a year abroad. Leaving a place you have such fond memories of is even worse, because when you return you expect exactly those memories and people and atmospheres but that isn’t what you get. You may still have those individual relationships – Jess, for example, will forever be one of my favorite people in the whole wide world - but everything will be different. You are not who you were when you left and they are not who they were when you left them.
Luckily for me I found an absolutely amazing group of people here in Spain. Erin fell into my life freshman year and after moving in together last semester she and I have been stuck like glue, and moving to Spain together was just the cherry on top. We met Be - the sweetest, most wonderful human being you may ever meet in your life - shortly after coming to Spain. Obviously we pulled her in real quick and now she is our own personal adorable little nugget. I met Lara in German – possibly the most unfortunate class anyone will ever take – and may or may not have fallen in love. She’s probably the most similar person to me that I’ve ever met in my life but with a way cooler accent because she’s Irish. She’s already taught me so much about life and who I am as a person in just a few short months, and I think I’ll keep her. So the four of us made our own group, and I truly wouldn’t have it any other way.
Cultural barriers have even fallen. My group of friends in my translation class met me and were so excited to have met an American and were asking me all these questions and while it was fun and interesting, it wasn’t quite friendship yet so much as “look at our new toy.” But now we talk about their lives and mine and I’m treated no differently than anyone else – sometimes they even forget Spanish isn’t my first language – and we just have a good time. It’s so refreshing. I know when I walk into a restaurant whether I should sit and wait for a server or go up to the register and order. I know what kind of coffee I like and which places have the best tostadas. I know all of these things and I am so comfortable in this culture, and I freakin’ leave in 56 days. What the Hell is that about?
I know I can’t actually complain because I got to live in Spain and I’m not even going home after this I get to go to freakin’ Germany and my life is a fairytale and I totally wouldn’t argue with any of that. I swear I know I’m blessed. But leaving sucks, I don’t care who you are, and I’m not ready to do it. The girls and I have agreed not to talk about how long we have until we leave but it’s like a freakin’ I don’t even know what because I can’t think of a decent metaphor right now but pretend I said something clever and you now sympathize with me. It wouldn’t be so bad except Be is from Colorado and Lara is from Ireland so reunions will be few and far between, unfortunately. But I’m really not worried. I love these girls, and I know that truly nothing could keep me from seeing them again. Nothing could keep me from living in Spain again either, by the way, the only reason I can handle leaving is because I know damn well that I’ll be back.
Things I will miss when I leave: THE FREAKING COFFEE OH SWEET GOD THE THOUGHT OF NOT HAVING IT ANYMORE CAUSES ME PHYSICAL PAIN, Belvita crackers – which may be the actual reason the world turns because they are that good, 40 cent beers – you know damn well you’d miss them too, the freakin’ sangria oh good Lord need I say more, the drinking age – ours is officially unacceptable, the drinking and coffee culture which I’ve explained in previous blog posts, having Spanish all over the place – it truly is such a beautiful language and after being in Malta for only a week I missed it like crazy, the relaxed lifestyle, the freedom, the way this place feels like home, the freakin’ bocadillos, my flatmates, my friends, all of it.
Things I miss from home: Mom’s home cooked meals, mac n’ cheese, CALIFORNIA FRIGGEN BURRITOS, having a car, obviously friends and family, OH MY GOD ALSO IN N OUT, the American university system – believe it or not it’s actually really organized compared to here, MY PUPPIES, freakin’ WVU school pride, football games, the ability to go out at 3am and get food because everything is still open and I feel like it, JIMMY JOHNS MY ONE TRUE LOVE, not getting stared at because of my hair color, America in general.
Clearly my heart is torn in tiny little pieces and scattered all over California, West Virginia, Spain, Germany, etc. and I get the distinct impression that that won’t be changing anytime soon, only getting worse. But it’s so, so, so worth it. I have enjoyed every moment of my life here in Spain and I absolutely adore WVU and Temecula and I cannot wait to get back to Germany. You know, if this is what life is going to be like for me for awhile, I have absolutely no complaints, I only hope that in continues.
Guess I’ll leave this suuuuper nostalgic post at that, because I’m not mentally or emotionally prepared to handle thinking about it anymore. Hopefully writing it out a little bit will get rid of the feeling in the back of my head that keeps reminding me it’s going to end because at this point all I want to do is enjoy the time I have left – as much as a college kid can enjoy anything during finals month – but you know what I mean.
Til next time
PS. This may be my way of coping because honestly I haven’t actually accepted in any way, shape or form that I will be leaving this country. I refuse to accept it. This is me being a mature adult about it. But according to Kate, denial is the first step, so it can only go up from here, right?
PPS. The Spanish phrase of the day is “ideas preconcebidas” which means “preconcieved notions/ideas” which I feel like everyone inherently posesses when thinking about another country and culture. If you ask me, in order to truly integrate yourself into a new culture and way of life, you have to forget all your predispositions in order to be unbiased when learning about the way things really are. Contrary to popular believe, not all Spanish people dance the flamenco and take a 2 hour siesta every day, nor are they all bullfighters – a disgusting practice by the way, culturally acceptable or not. While I know these generalizations are blanket statements and it’s the same as saying all Americans love guns and are perpetually yelling about freedom, a lot of people somehow hold them as basic references in their minds when thinking of a place so foreign as Spain. I just think it’s really, truly interesting how different our preconcieved perceptions of a place can be to the way it actually is, and I’m so glad I got to learn and experience it for myself. The siesta thing is kinda true, by the way, these people love to take breaks.
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I wrote this blog while living in Spain my second year of college - figured it wouldn't hurt to share.