I am academically halfway! It’s crazy to consider that I’ve finished learning two entire semesters of Spanish in just eight weeks. I’m excited to be completing my classes and improving my Spanish skills, but regretful to realize that my time abroad is truly flying by. In my two months of residency in Spain, I’ve also developed conflicting feelings about the people, country, and culture.
Studying abroad has been one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I have learned a lot about myself from both the triumphs and the challenges. Without years of hard work, patience, focus, and support from family (thank you, Mema and PopPop, for your generosity, and help in making my travels possible), I would not have been able to pursue my passions of exploration and discovery. I am infinitely grateful to have the opportunity to analyze foreign behaviors, and consequently, analyze myself. For as easily as I have accepted Madrid as my new environment, however, there are some things, both theoretical and physical, that, as an American, I still value. With the upmost acceptance and affection for Spain, I list some constructive complaints, followed by a few compliments, that I may have to learn to live with should I decide to make Europe my future home.
- Smoking and then going to the gym seems dysfunctional to me. I don’t care what you do to your body, but when it affects mine, as I smell a mix of sweat and smoke seeping out of your pores from the next treadmill over, we have a problem.
- Best $9.99 I’ve ever spent. My BRITA filter water bottle compensates for the disappointing and inconvenient absence of water fountains in this country.
- Peanut butter alone requires a map and a good recommendation to obtain, so you can forget about finding Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups.
- I drink it when I’m sick. I drink it when I’m tired. I drink it want to be healthy on-the-go and I’m too lazy to cut up an apple. Though not always as nutritionally beneficial as they seem, tasty Naked Juice does not exist in Spain
- Between Auntie Anne’s and Philly Pretzel Factory, I’ve never experienced soft-pretzel withdrawal. I guess Spain is too far from Germany to have adopted the salty snack.
- “If we had them, they’d be in the aisle with the Mexican food.” Jalepeños are universal, Spain!
- So maybe Goldfish are a stretch, but can I at least have Cheeze-Its!?
- It’s mid-March and I am no closer to getting a Shamrock Shake. I know I already complained about it, and I know it’s only for one month. But still.
- I’m not going to blame Spain for neglecting cottage cheese. It’s definitely not an international favorite, though it is one of my favorites.
- Grapes? You can find them in most grocery stores. Seedless grapes? Nothing in Spain is that easy. Except the metro.
- The Madrid metro is the closest thing to perfect in Spain. Even though it closes at 1:30 a.m. every day of the week, the signage is clear and the fares are cheap.
- Topping any street-style, best dressed list, Spanish fashion, or European fashion in general, is simply better.
- You haven’t had hot chocolate until you’ve had San Ginés, but even Spain’s grocery store mix is good!
- Tapas=snacking=my kind of eating. Though I don’t like what is served, I like how it’s served. I prefer small meals throughout the day to a large dinner, so tapas are perfect for my snacker’s appetite. I do miss, however, being satisfyingly full after a good, home-cooked meal.
These observations are only the beginning! With an entire second half of the semester to go, I am well-adjusted to my new life, prepared for new experiences, and eager to discover more about, Madrid, Spain, and counties beyond.
Paz, Amor, Madrid