Words cannot begin to describe how intimidating and overwhelming the idea of living in a different country for three months is. I had no idea what I was getting myself into and that was the scariest part.
Little did I know while I was jamming three months of clothes into one suitcase and a carry-on that not knowing is okay. Not knowing what to bring, what I was going to eat, or if I knew enough Spanish to survive in Spain for three months were just a few of my concerns.
I believe that the best experiences a person will have are the ones that are unplanned. If you know exactly what is going to happen then nothing will ever surprise you or amaze you.
There was nothing anyone could have said that would have prepared me for this experience. All of the Spanish stereotypes are correct, but you don’t fully understand what living here will be like until the minute you step off the plane 4,000 miles away from home.
The Spanish lifestyle is much more relaxed and completely different than what I am used to. It’s perfectly acceptable to stay out until 2 a.m. on a Tuesday, even my host mom will stay up until 3 a.m. most nights because there is a built in time to nap in the afternoon.
Siestas are an unwritten social aspect of every Spaniard’s day-to-day life. Most businesses, stores and restaurants close from 2 to 5 p.m. and everyone is expected to go home for lunch and to rest.
It was definitely difficult adjusting to eating lunch at 2:30 instead of noon, but that is all a part of immersing myself into the culture. I have realized during my stay here that there is no right or wrong way to live. I always thought that the social norms of the United States were the best and made the most sense, but once I thought about it I realized that maybe the Spaniards’ methods made sense too.
I have begun to appreciate and even enjoy the relaxed lifestyle which has made me notice how obsessed Americans are with productivity and efficiency. This obsession takes away one’s ability to truly live their life to the fullest and take advantage of everything that it has to offer. I don’t think I truly realized how lucky I was to be here until I was running along the Guadalquivir River and had the chance to step back and take in everything around me. Every new experience amazes me and makes me wonder why I was so afraid to live in Sevilla in the first place.
The best advice that I have for someone studying abroad is to take everything one day at a time.
The best way to truly appreciate everything that the country has to offer is to live in the moment instead of looking at the “big picture” Everyday I think of my life as an adventure and take advantage of every opportunity that I am given because I know that this is a once in a lifetime experience that I am going to remember for the rest of my life.
Caroline Gamble can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org