No pasa nada is the unofficial motto of Spain. No problem, don’t worry about it. We siesta, and close our stores for hours in the middle of the day. We charge more for water than for alcohol. The Spanish way of life is much different than that of the United States. It is slow-paced, pleasure-oriented, and can be confusing for type-A personalities like me. Being over seas has turned life as I’ve lived it upside down, but I have never been more grateful for the change.
Some know better than others my need for schedule and structure. From school, to sports, to employment, I have dedicated countless hours to assuring that I perform to the best of my abilities. All A’s have to be A-pluses, I always strive to contribute something powerful and valuable to my team, and if I ‘m not scheduled to work as much as I can during the week, then I’m not working enough. I’m not complaining about the rigor of my activities; I like feeling productive and accomplished. Since coming to Spain, however, I have had a lifestyle makeover that only a change in culture could have caused.
Studying abroad, even with all of its foreign experiences, has given me sanity. Here, I can enjoy my life, without worrying about the next test or losing sleep over fine-tuning an assignment. I can spend hours touring a museum, wandering around a park, or chatting with friends at a restaurant long after I’ve finished my meal. I can afford to get out of class and wonder what I’m going to do with the rest of my day, instead of having it planned out from the moment I get up to the moment I crash.
Wow, congratulations on the 5-month-long vacation. Though it seems like an escape from responsibility and reality, being in Madrid has taught me more about these very fundamentals. I have finally absorbed the idea that things don’t always have to be going my way, or going at all. Relaxation, flexibility, and faith are equally as important as ambition, dedication, and drive.
“I miss you but glad you are LIVING!” my mom wrote to me. She knows better than anyone how I will benefit and grow from studying abroad. While it is slightly concerning that I had to be on another continent to realize that I was limiting my life, I now know what it feels like to slow down and embrace your surroundings. To travel is to see new things, in both foreign and familiar places. As I am exposed to European experiences, I explore greater qualities within myself. I have learned so much in these past six weeks, I can’t wait to discover what the next three months have in store.
Paz, Amor, Madrid