¡Bienvenidos al blog! Welcome to my blog! Now that I have been in Spain for a week I figured it was time to update everyone on how I am adjusting. This post will be a very general reaction to my new surrounding and way of life. Bueno y vamos.
Let’s start this off with un pocito más information about what I am even doing here. For the entire spring semester, I am studying abroad in Toledo at the Fundación Ortega Marañón, which is a Spanish school where the curriculum is specifically designed for international students that are still learning the Spanish language.
While I am here, I am staying with a host family and it has definitely been difficult to adjust to. I am the first person to admit that my Spanish is not the best. It would be difficult enough to move into a stranger’s home without a language barrier so the idea of living with a Spanish family honestly gave me a lot of anxiety prior to coming, but I knew it would be a good opportunity in the long run. The first couple of days were very difficult as I not only had to get back in the practice of using Spanish, but also learn how to navigate a new house with new culture norms. With all of that said, I am adjusting to living with the host family very quickly.
The family that I am staying with consists of a mom (Sagrario), dad (Alfredo), a 22-year-old son (also Alfredo), a 17-year-old son (Daniel), and a (very big) dog named Luca. Interestingly enough, Daniel did an exchange program two years ago and actually ended up in Minnesota for 10 months. This also means that his English is very good so he has been a great translator when I can’t get my point across in Spanish or can’t understand someone else.
There are plenty of other things besides the homestay that I am still getting used to. Even a lot of familiar things are different here, for example, you can buy beer at McDonald’s, as shown above. The streets inside the walls of Toledo are also very different and confusing. Because Toledo is such an ancient city, there really is no rhyme or reason to the streets. They are all very narrow and winding which makes walking in the city feel like walking a maze. (I still don’t know exactly how to get from the bus stop to the school, I just kind of wander until I find something familiar.)
Perhaps the most difficult differences to adapt to are their meal times. In general, everything in Spain happens a lot later. Breakfast is very small when you wake up, lunch is around 3 (just before “siesta”) and is eaten as a family, and dinner is between 9 and 10pm (but usually even later than that in my family). While living with the family in general has been an easy adjustment, I don’t know that I will ever quite get used to eating so late in the evening.
Overall, this has been a very humbling experience more than anything else. I have so much more respect and empathy for all of the international students that I have encountered at the U because now I know just how hard it is to interact with native speakers of your second language. It has been extremely frustrating that I am rarely able to fully formulate my thoughts into words here but I can tell that it is getting much easier day by day. As my host-mom says, “Poco a poco.”
As I said, I kept this pretty general but I hope you are all prepared for plenty of stories of all of my embarrassing Spanish interactions, uncomfortable culture shock, and general awkwardness in this situation that are sure to come!
¡Gracias y Hasta luego!