It appears I have let an entire month slip by without posting anything. Not to worry – I have still been having adventures and writing them down, but my personal trip journals are far too rambling and verbose for anyone but myself to find them interesting, and I am just now getting to editing it down to something that others might be wiling to look at! (You’re now, I’m sure, wondering how on earth it is possible that I could be more verbose than these posts already suggest. Just trust me – you are actually getting off fairly easily with the length of my blog posts! It could be infinitely worse).
Nearly a month ago now, I had the great fortune of a visit from my family (my mother, father, and brother) for an entire week during my brother’s spring break. It was an incredible week – I am quite close with my family, and they have always been my very favorite traveling companions – and it gave me some valuable perspective on just how far I’ve come in my time here.
I had not realized just how much I’d adapted to the Spanish culture until my family came, just as unfamiliar with it as I was on day one, and I got to teach it to them. After living here for several months, it now seems perfectly normal to me that, when crossing the street, you don’t wait for the cars to pass, but rather walk in front of them – pedestrians truly have the right of way here, and the cars will stop for you, even if it seems like they won’t. I am no longer phased by the fact that the waitstaff in restaurants are in no hurry to get you out the door, and can in fact be incredibly difficult to track down if you’re looking to pay and leave. My family was shocked that Alcalá wasn’t more full of life by 10 AM, but for the past few months, the reality of life has been that waking up before 9 is “madrugando” (rising incredibly early), and that the Spaniards like to take their mornings slowly.
These are but a few examples of how I’ve grown accustomed to the pace of life here – there are many. On the whole, it took my family visiting to remind me that, as comfortable as Spain now feels to me, I am living in a significantly different way this semester than I have in the past. And I could not be more grateful for the opportunity to do so. For a few months, I have been able to live as a Spaniard, eating their food, keeping their schedule, and seeing their sights. At first, it was a little uncomfortable (it was a lot to adapt to, and as you’ll recall, I am not always the biggest lover of change) but now it is hard for me to believe that I have only been here for just over three months.
Another great thing about my family being here was getting the chance to translate for them – mainly in sales and restaurant interactions. Being able to converse in both English and Spanish begins to feel somewhat like a super power when you are the force uniting two groups with no common language and allowing them to communicate. Of everything I have learned in school, Spanish may be what I am most grateful for. It has literally opened up new parts of the world for me, and that amazes me. I often heard fellow students in high school complain that what they were learning would not help them in the real world. I am here to tell you – without the Spanish that I started learning in high school, the real world of Spain would have been exponentially more difficult to navigate.
Language utilization and cultural realizations aside, my family’s visit gave the the fantastic opportunity to show them around my home city here, as well as several other cities I visited. We explored Alcalá, Madrid, Toledo, and Barcelona, and all were incredible. Though I repeated cities, I had entirely new experiences (exploring the Prado, touring all of Gaudí’s magnificent architectural treasures, climbing one of the towers of La Sagrada Familia, wandering through the Olympic venues of Barcelona, and just getting to know all of the cities better) and I had a lovely time. Showing off Spain is the best, traveling with my family is the best, and it was a fantastic week.