September 7, 2011

I went back and looked through my blog a couple days ago and it made me smile. Overall, it’s been a super easy transition. (Almost) Everything I worried about was silly and unnecessary. The whole “culture shock cycle” or whatever… hasn’t happened. At least not yet. They say you’re supposed to experience a “honeymoon” phase where everything is exciting, a freakout/depressed/withdrawal stage where life basically sucks, an adjustment phase where you get your routine down, and then a belonging phase where you don’t want to leave.

I feel like I skipped over the sucky part, and have moved on to the belonging/not-wanting-to-leave part. Already. After a bit more than two weeks here. But that’s me, I guess. I was in love with Spain before I even came here. I had my withdrawal period before I even left–mentally, in my worries. But, who knows, maybe it’ll hit me later. All I know is, I LOVE it here.

So here’s a silly, worried paragraph from a blog entry on August 18, three days before I left:

“I don’t know what to expect about anything, really. I’ll be living with a host family for the length of my stay and I don’t know what it’s like to live in a Spanish home. I don’t know a whole lot about the food or the routine of the average Spanish person. Sure, I’ve heard a couple of things, but reading up on things or watching movies does little to prepare you for the actual shock of the cultural difference. And, really, living with a family that is not my own is not something I have much experience with. I don’t know much about international travel either. I’ve never been through customs… not that I’m worried; I have a passport and a visa and everything will be fine, but it’s still a bit nerve-wracking. And when I get there, if my flight is delayed and I can’t meet with my group I have to take a bus and figure out how to get where I’m going and it’s all a bit frightening.  And how am I going to let my parents know I’m safe when I won’t be able to use my US cell phone? And then there’s the whole group dynamic–how will I fit in with a bunch of other American college students who probably aren’t a whole lot like me? I’m not really your typical American college student, but then again I guess anyone who wants to go to Spain for a semester of intense Spanish immersion must have more than a couple things in common with me.”

Alright so, here we go, attacking my ridiculousness.

  1. My host family is AWESOME. I have un padre y una madre, and they’re both super nice, accommodating, and chill. They have 3 guest rooms so they have people from various programs coming and going all the time. I’ve already had apartment-mates from: Poland, Belgium, Estonia, and Mexico. It’s really cool for me to meet and get to know people from all over the world, because that’s what I’m interested in. So, for me, it’s ideal.
  2. It did take me a bit of time to get accustomed to the eating schedule, but really, with jetlag and everything, it wasn’t hard. I have breakfast at 8, get to school at 9, have a break at 11 in which I eat a snack or something, get out of class at 12:30, walk around some or do something fun with friends, have lunch around 2:30 or 3, do more fun stuff with friends, and then have dinner at 9. It sounds strange to an American, but my body has gotten used to it pretty easily.
  3. Going through customs? Piece. of. cake. I didn’t even have to do anything. There wasn’t a line. I just gave them my passport, and they said I could go. It was too easy.
  4. Ok, the worry about flight delays was legitimate. Read this post and this post if you want to hear about THAT horror. But, sobre todo, it wasn’t so bad. Easy for me to say now, eh? But even though I was tired, hot, and sweaty, I found the hotel where my group was. I survived the tour of the University. And then, after dinner that night, I could sleep. And that really helped with jetlag, that I stayed awake the whole time.
  5. Letting my parents know–piece of cake as well. When I arrived at orientation, after sitting through part of a lecture, I got to send an email to my parents and that was that. And, after I got to my new home, I was able to skype with my dad. No prob.
  6. And, finally, the group dynamic. I have friends! And it wasn’t even that hard! haha. It’s true what I said about people having things in common with me. I mean, we’re all here for the same purpose, so we’ve all got our minds in similar places. Apart from politics and religion, which is something that should be avoided until you’re close anyway, I’m on the same page with a lot of people here. I have more in common with some of my friends here than I do with some of my friends back home!

In sum, apart from travel delays, which are always hit-or-miss anyway, all my fears were unnecessary. See? Don’t be anxious about anything. It’s all good.


One comment

  1. That is an awesome post. Even though I’ve talked to you a few times, this really helped me see how you are doing.

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