Whenever someone studies abroad, we often see the term “culture shock.” When my group arrived, we had a mandatory meeting to talk about culture shock. How there would be a honeymoon phase, followed by anxiety, followed by adjustment, before finally reaching acceptance. They told us how we might feel alone, isolated, frustrated, and more because we’re experiencing so many new things at once. I assumed because this was my first time being more than a few hours away from all the people I know and love, culture shock would hit me like a ton of bricks. I would be second guessing my choice to study so far from home, and I would want to go home.
However, after two weeks here, I still don’t necessarily feel any of those. Yes, it is a little frustrating not having the correct words I want to say, but overall, it has been an amazing experience, and I have gained so much in such a short period of time. Spain is such a beautiful country with so many things to do. As someone who is an introvert and often stays home, I have been adjusting to a life of waking up early and going out every single day.
Maybe after a few more weeks, I’ll understand just how hard it is to live in a country away from everything I’ve ever known. Perhaps I’m still in the honeymoon phase, and reality will come crashing in, but as of right now, I am truly very happy I chose to study abroad.
I am already aware that Spain is not a perfect country, and I would be lying if I said I was happy every single day here or that everything is perfect. I thought I would maybe want to move here after experiencing the culture, but I don’t believe I ever would want to now. I love how everything you could ever need is within a few minutes. I live across the street from a tapas bar, around the corner from multiple restaurants, less than a minute away from two grocery stores, and there’s 4 or 5 bus stops within minutes of my apartment. There’s even clothing and shoe stores that I can walk to, which is unheard of in the States. However, I have also learned that the economic situation here is rough, the education system isn’t great, and it is not a very plus-size friendly country. I also am exhausted and often wonder how people here manage to just go, go, go.
As I spend more and more time here, I hope to continue to grow in my language usage and appreciation of Spanish culture in my classes and everyday life. I hope I can become more comfortable with my host family and the people I see every day. I cannot wait to see how I continue to learn and grow as I ride the wave that is culture shock.