Loa Tzu stated that, “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” I think this this quote reflects on how my study abroad experience has been thus far physically and metaphorically. That being said I have physically traveled over a thousand miles; I have been living in Seville, Spain for a little over a week now flying out of Logan Airport in Boston but, apart from this in my journey I have taken different steps to adjust to my new environment. Let me elaborate for a second. Traveling to a new area on a vacation, you don’t need to necessarily adjust to the new environment because you’re a tourist. Either you’re traveling with family or friends you’re in your own personal bubble. Those are the people you have accompanied on this trip and those are the people you stick with. In those situations you don’t have to leave your comfort zone, in a sense you expect to be catered to, since technically you are a guest in that country. But when you are living in a new environment for an extended period of time the opposite occurs. In this case you are “told” to adapt to your new environment.
Seville, Spain is not so different from the United States but at the same time it feels like another world away. When I landed in Madrid about a week ago it felt like I was walking around New York on a chilly fall afternoon. But when I paid more attention to the finer details I heard Spanish instead of English. This might not be a big deal to the people that understood Spanish but coming from someone that doesn’t know the language it’s hard to comprehend the feeling that you are utterly alone but surrounded by people at the same time. When looking around I saw the Spanish flag standing proud, the buildings were beautiful but it wasn’t the type of architecture found in the U.S and another big difference was the size of everything; downsized. The elevators were tiny and cramped, the staircases, the cars and the food portions were too but fortunately I already expected that to be the case since I have traveled to Europe before. Everyone talks about “culture-shock” when they travel to a new environment, but I didn’t feel any different. I think this was due to the fact I have traveled to Europe before as well as a Spanish speaking country. I was able to put two separate travel experiences together in my head to have a sense of what I was getting myself into and luckily I was right.
That being said, entering into the liminality status has not been as easy as I was expecting it was going to. I thought I was going to make friends right off the bat and have the time of my life from the get go but that hasn’t been the case. There have been several challenges I have been faced with already and it has only been a little over a week. For starters the Spanish culture is very different to the American culture. For example the Spanish tend to be very direct when speaking almost to the point of rude from our perspective, they don’t say excuse me unless they have already trampled you when walking by, they eat dinner around 9 or 10pm every night and then go out clubbing till 5 in the morning, they drink all day, close there shops everyday from 2-4pm for siesta (basically to take a break of nap) and they don’t work on Sunday since it is considered a Holy Day. It is also a widely known area to get pick pocketed, so not only am I trying to learn and practice my Spanish, adapt to the lifestyle without sticking out as an American (which is hard to do with blonde hair) but also watch my bags and pockets more carefully then I ever thought possible. But Slimbach stated, “someone who is outgoing and ever ready to try something new is likely to fare better in stressful situations than an introvert and culturally cautious perfectionist (Slimbach 155).” I think that statement is accurate for my experiences, I consider myself an extrovert and opened to everything been thrown my way. Even with all these challenges I’ve faced which includes trying to find a communita. I realized the first group were trickers and a bunch of cliquey girls, but a few days later I finally found my communita where we can all travel on this journey together and finally see the world through new eyes with this once in a lifetime experience.
Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub., LLC, 2010. Print.
“Quotes About Travel (2093 Quotes).” (2093 Quotes). N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Jan. 2017.