Go With the Flow: Adjusting
“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.” Alan Watts
The first time I was greeted by someone in Spain, they instinctively went to give me a kiss on both cheeks. Naturally, I was a little thrown off and I’m sure I made it very obvious that that was something I was not accustomed to. However, there’s not an awkward moment that laughing about can’t fix. Now, it’s no longer a strange or awkward concept, but a custom that I have adapted to and utilize when I meet new people.
There were many stereotypes of Spaniards that I heard about before coming to Spain, some hold more truth than others, but in reality you have to go into this adventure with an open mind. I learned that if you have an open mind about pretty much everything while travelling, you will always be pleasantly surprised rather than disappointed.
Also, having an open mind allowed me to try new food that I may not have tried in New York. I’m staying at a homestay with a host family, which is just a host mom who loves to cook. She has her own garden and grows most of the food we eat, which I’m a big fan of. I love all of the food that I have eaten so far, which is a lot of vegetables and beans. I was nervous about the food situation coming here, since I’m a vegetarian and big part of the Spanish diet is meat and fish, but it’s been relatively easy.
I also love my homestay apartment because it’s in the center of the city, which is close to everything and a 5-minute walk to class. My apartment is uncommonly big for the center of a Spanish city; I share the bottom floor with a girl from my program and our host mom is on the floor above us. I was a little apprehensive that I wouldn’t like staying at a homestay, but I really think it’s the best option for truly immersing yourself in another culture. I get to practice my Spanish all the time while having genuine conversations, and I get to eat really good food.
One thing that I was expecting to be different about the Spanish culture was the schedule of their meals. We all eat breakfast at different times because of our own schedules, but we normally eat lunch around 2PM, then dinner at 9PM. I actually prefer eating dinner at this time, compared to the typical time in America at 6PM or 7PM.
So far, adapting to this new culture has proved to be an enjoyable learning experience. It’s true that the customs of the Spanish people are a little different than the people I am used to in New York, but I love noticing these cultural differences and comparing it to the norms in America. I can’t wait to learn more about this culture and way of life.