Letting the Emotions Flow
I never thought I’d experience an array of different emotions a week. For someone who goes trough emotions like clothes, that’s saying something. Before leaving for Alicante, I was blind-sided with news no body wants to hear; my grandfather was diagnosed with cancer. With my departure quickly approaching, I was overwhelmed with guilt for leaving in his time in need. However, my grandfather encouraged me to go on and not to worry.
I arrived in Alicante, guilt and distress shoved aside, and was determined to learn I could about my new and temporary home. Several things I realized were not what I had expected. One being shower use. As it turns out, Spain has a water crisis. So showering includes using the water to rinse then turning it off while shampooing/conditioning and lathering your body. I actually appreciate that because it is teaching me to be more conservative with water.
Another unexpected aspect was the students who had been living here before my roommate, Anaiya, and I arrived. They were students from Towson University in Maryland and only had a week with us. That week left such a big impact on not only my first week experience, but every student in my program. Our “house-brothers”, Edwin and Shaun, quickly became our closest friends because they showed us around Alicante. They provided overviews on how things are done in this part of Spain. They shared their experiences from their previous weeks before us so that we may learn from them. It’s crazy to Anaiya and I how close of friends we could be after only a week of knowing someone. We were devastated yet happy when Edwin and Shaun left to go home.
Carmen, or “Mama Hermosa” as I’d call her, is a loving and caring woman who is a fantastic chef. She goes out of her way to cook us the most delicious food for lunch and dinner. Breakfast isn’t really a big meal in Spain. She normally toasts bread and we eat it with jelly, peanut butter, chocolate, and with coffee or water. Carmen is so patient with us and our Spanish. She’ll politely correct us and teaches us the correct way of saying something that we get stuck on. She is also very funny and has opinions about many subjects like foreign policies and the United States government. I’m blesswed to have Carmen as my “Mama Hermosa”.
“These Streets Ain’t Easy”
One thing I quickly learned that I was not use to back home was crossing narrow, busy streets between cars. People in Alicante are similar to people in New York City when it comes to crossing the street. They don’t wait for cars to stop or finish passing. My home town is very suburban, so crossing the street for me included looking both ways on wide, semi-busy streets. However, I quickly adapted to this new custom and learned to be a bit more attentive for cars. Because of this, I grew a bit more confident in myself.
Everyday during the first week I grew a bit more bold and comfortable in my new home. My group of friends and I would always plan on something to do in this wonderful little city. Our group did everything from going to 2 different beaches, going to local cafes and trying new cuisine, experiencing the nightlife. Some of us even planned a trip to Barcelona. We all encouraged each other to put ourselves out of our comfort zones and have fun, while also supporting each other in learning the new language.
Every new and interesting activity we did, we learned a aspect of Spanish culture and language. It helps because each of us are on different levels on speaking and understanding Spanish. We would help and teach each other. Our trip to Barcelona was enjoyable, until I got sick on the second day. Despite feeling under the weather, I still persisted in going around to see what the beautiful city had to offer. My group and I went to La Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, various restaurants. We stayed in an amazing hostel, treated ourselves to an ornate seafood dinner by the Barceloneta Beach, and discovered a deep dislike for metro systems.
Classes Made Simple
My first week of classes were really interesting because they turned out not how I expected. I thought either the students in my program would be in the same class, or we would be mixed between large classes. Turns out, our classes are very small with 8 students being the largest. Some of us were in the same class depending on our level of Spanish. We also had some students from the Towson University as well as from other countries such as Italy and Holland.
Classes are split into two sessions from 9am-10:30am and 11am-12:30pm, with a 30 min brunch break in between. I have one professor for the 1st part and another for 2nd part, and taught all in Spanish. I’m surprised that I can understand more than 70% of the lecture. Partly due to the professors understanding that we are still learning Spanish despite our various levels. So they speak clearly and a bit slowly. I enjoy my classes because the conversations are all in Spanish and I’m still learning that way.
My Final Thought
Overall, my first week of studying Spanish in Alicante, Spain felt much longer than a week and was very eventful. Despite my rough start and sudden ailment, I still enjoyed my time I had spent with the amazing group of people from Towson and getting to know my professors and the city. I can’t wait to see what the next three weeks have planned for me.