It has taken me a while to write this entry. Mostly because I have not wanted to. So many people have hoped and wished and dreamed this adventure for me. I have for myself too. And I wanted it to be everything they hoped and wished and dreamed for me… but…
Before I left for Spain I did a lot or research as far as the culture goes. I asked my professors from Spain a plethora of questions. I read forums, blogs, guidebooks; you name it, I read it. I thought I was ready. I truly believed that the hardest part of Spain for me was going to be the language and I had a pretty firm grasp on that (or so I thought!). Since being here, I have discovered that the language has been by far the EASIEST part. There are so many different cultural nuances. They are the things that have been ingrained in us since childhood, like how to act in a supermarket, how far to stand away to maintain personal space etc. The things we do instinctively. Our version of “common sense.” Well, I have learned that common sense is not so common and varies from culture to culture.
Since moving to Spain I have truly had FANTASTIC experiences, as you can see in the pictures here. But, there have been some really dark moments for me too. I have had moments where I have broken down crying for no reason. Things that would never have phased me in the US, are the things I lie awake obsessing over at night. ‘Did that guy mean to give me such a nasty look? What did I do?’ and so on. I have had my moments where I think, ‘That’s it. I hate Spain. I shouldn’t have come here. I’m never leaving the Americas again.’ But then something will happen, a stranger will hold the door open and say, “Buenos Tardes,” or I’ll share a joke with the lady that makes the WORLD’S BEST CROISSANTS at the Mercado. It’s in these moments that I am reminded, ‘Actually, I kind of love Spain.’
Needless to say, all of these experiences and all of this processing I have had to incur have made me feel a little (okay, A LOT) like an emotional crazy person! Since a picture is worth 1,000 words, I took a few that I feel quite adequately describe how I have been feeling. You’re welcome.
For any international students reading this or anyone who has moved to a completely new place and is trying to adjust to a new culture; you are not alone. There are so many people feeling just like you. If you would like some more resources on how to adjust to a new culture and the symptoms of culture shock click here. Anyone with questions or just needs to talk to someone who understands what you're going through, contact me. For Alicante, Spain specific nuances you can read this blog post to learn the ins and outs. It gets easier. I have learned to laugh quite a bit.
And for the ones that are unsure about going, go. It IS worth it. Yes, there are days that SUCK. But, there are moments when a deep seeded sense of purpose, meaning and importance wells up inside of you that you cannot help but feel you are exactly where you are supposed to be.