One of the most difficult experiences of being a student abroad is trying to not have the image of a tourist. In my opinion, the most important part of the study abroad experience is being able to absorb the culture of the host-country, and attempting to use this newly gained knowledge to be seen more as just a tourist. Tourists visit museums and historical monuments that countries have to offer, however, they do not usually attempt to understand the culture or the day-to-day lives of the locals. Although there are those who do, there are many who don’t. It is crucial as a student abroad to indulge in all of the aspects their host country has to offer.
My main goal of coming to Spain is to improve my ability to speak spanish more fluently and comfortably. It has also become extremely important to me to assimilate into the Spanish culture to the best of my ability. This meant changing my daily routine. This includes changing things as basic as my eating habits and sleeping schedule. Tiempo de Siesta (nap time) is one of my favorite things in Spain. This after everyone eats lunch, the biggest meal of the deal. Not everyone takes a nap but it is common. Even the stores close from 2:00 – 4:00 PM. Moreover, the biggest change I made was my eating habits. Back home, I am a very picky eater. I would avoid trying new things as best as I could. Yet, in Spain I have learned to NOT do this. Each time my friends and I will eat out I will always eat something new. So far, I love Pulpo a la Gallega and Paella. The seafood here is amazing! Also, I have learned to not eat “american breakfast” and like toast with coffee & milk as my drink. The main change I have made is forcing myself to speak Spanish as often as I can, even to my friends who know english.
The most difficult part of being a student abroad is trying to not have the image of a tourist. I feel it takes major part of the experience away. For example, once in Burgos my friend, Frankie, and I were reading the menu in Spanish of a small cafe. The waiter saw us, and turned the menu around to the english version. We both felt a bit offended because we were trying our best to practice our Spanish each chance we got. Although we did understand the waiter had good intentions in making it easier for us. It’s just a bit annoying when incidents like that continue to happen. I have also found that around the tourist attractions, there are many restaurants that target that population of people. These places usually sell westernized foods. I learned to ignore it and avoid the “touristy” places, that way I can eat real food and practice my spanish more. There is nothing wrong with being a tourist, I just would like to experience something more than a tourist would; which is why I am so passionate about adapting to this new environment.