For a change of pace, I’ve decided to post a dual list of things I appreciate about Spain and things I miss about home, caveat being, of course, that such a list necessarily involves generalizations. So don’t take my word for it—come for a visit!
A random odd thing: milk in stores in Spain is kept in the open, along with boxes of cereal and other such dry goods. The pasteurization process used here is different, apparently.
Things I love about Spain:
Everyone is friendly and most are extremely patient with language-learners
The weather is almost always balmy
Desserts like natias (a sweet type of pudding) and turrón (nougat made with honey, sugar, egg white, and nuts), and scrumptious traditional dishes like paella
One is never late (this is true even of me…which is saying something). If, for example, your bus is stopped for fifteen minutes because of some unidentified obstacle in the road and you are subsequently caught in the rain, all of which causes you to arrive at class twenty minutes late, no pasa nada (no big deal)—you’ll probably arrive *cough* before five or so other students anyway.
Cookies for breakfast. (Yes, every morning I eat cereal and galletas….You can also put butter and jelly on your cookies, but after a couple of weeks of this sweet breakfast diet, I switched to dipping mine in milk instead and only eat the butter-and-jelly combination on Sundays. As much as I love sweets, I just couldn’t feel at ease about eating cookies with such unhealthy toppings for breakfast. Although I suppose it’s not much different from the sugary varieties of cereal we eat at home…interesting how the psyche works sometimes.)
A completely different sense of time—the Spanish almost never seem to be in a hurry, and they always have time for fellowship. The tyranny of the urgent doesn’t seem to exist here…or at least, not to the same degree. I think this easy-going perspective on time is rubbing off on me, because I’ve found myself, for example, making the one-hour trip to an internship only to find that the office where I’ve been volunteering was closed for the day. The gals I work with there had forgotten to tell me not to come, and I consequently traveled two hours for no reason…and yet, I wasn’t at all phased or upset by this…strange.
Being in Spain, I think, is teaching me to better understand G.K. Chesterton when he says that “an adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.” Indeed, some of my best adventures here have come about “by chance” when I was searching for something or waiting for something…I mean, even going to the grocery store for the first time here was an adventure! Everything—not just the language— is just different enough to keep me constantly learning.
Going to the movies. This isn’t particularly unique to Spain, but it was so exciting to go to a recent theater a few weeks ago and to discover that I was actually able to enjoy and understand a movie in Spanish! Sure, I may have missed a few details…but the experience was a more tangible proof that some of the reading, speaking, and studying I’m doing is actually sinking in!
Meeting new people and experiencing new things. It has been both fun and fascinating to converse with young people from countries as diverse as Turkey, Italy, Germany, Spain, Kazakhstan, Finland, China, etc., etc. It has also been such a blessing to be welcomed into church family and youth group here in Spain. Finally, I’d better not go into too much detail, or this post will become a short novel…but one of my favorite “new experiences” has been seeing the numerous cathedrals in various cities (they’re everywhere here!). Whatever your beliefs, these churches are breathtakingly beautiful.
Things I miss about home: ice and hot tea (these may see like strangely incongruent items to miss, but I’m both Southern and a lover of hot tea; and neither of these ends of the beverage spectrum are very common in Spain. I was, however, excited, at long last, to find a tea cup in Barcelona to add to my collection. Perhaps that particular souvenir item would have been easier to find in Great Britain, but anyway…)
Peanut butter (This is one food that I eat with great regularity at school, but it seems to be a rarity here.)
My car (It’s quite strange to have not driven for over two months. Consequently, I actually found myself fantasizing about driving the other day…and I don’t even like to drive!) Riding the bus, as I see it, is part of my Spain-experience, and I like it most of the time. But it is nice to be able to hop in the car and to arrive somewhere ten minutes later. Also, for someone who’s borderline germophobic (I may or may not keep a large container of Clorox wipes in my dorm room), becoming accustomed to the daily use of public transportation was somewhat disconcerting. The bus lines in Alicante, however (and in Spain in general, from what I’ve seen), and remarkably well-kept and sanitary. Still.
Family and friends at home and familiar things. Need I say more? They’re just amazing.