Hola Espana! First Impressions of Spain

Hola Espana! First Impressions of Spain

My third full day in Spain is coming to an end and my brain is currently relishing this opportunity to speak in English haha. ūüôā

I arrived here Monday evening and as I was flying in, had a beautiful view of the ocean and mountains ( I think this is what I love the most about the places I have so far- I can look out and see two things we don’t have in Oklahoma, all in the same panoramic view). As I got closer to the landing strip, I got goosebumps from my excitement and slight nervousness for this new adventure. It hit me that I was about to land in Spain which I have been telling people I am doing for months, but now it was actually happening!

¬†It was a bit of a strange feeling to get off an airplane in a foreign country by myself and having to find my way around. I did just fine and was proud of myself because it was slightly overwhelming and nothing was in English… I managed to flag down a taxi and give the driver directions, then I sat back and took in the new scenery all around me. I rode past big car dealerships and a mall and homes, so it felt like I could have been entering any American city, but as I got closer to the heart of town, the buildings grew closer together and taller and the European atmosphere returned.

Two OU students are placed into a host home, so I am living with another girl named Ashley with our super cute host mom, ¬†Maribel. She is around 65 (maybe 70?) and has been hosting students in her for 15 years. She is absolutely precious! She makes all of our meals, does our dishes and laundry, etc. I feel bad and like I should help, but you can tell she loves serving us and so we let her. Maribel always looks cute and is very eager to help Ashley and I understand what she is saying and makes sure we can properly pronounce words. I wound up in an 8 minute long lesson on how to pronounce “probablemente” (probably) earlier haha.

I really didn’t have an idea of what to expect coming into this trip, but I was still very surprised when I arrived. I think what surprised me the most was the sheer size of everything- no space is wasted. I was slightly shocked when I walked into our room and bathroom and had to hold back a gasp. It is very nice and clean, but simple and TINY! My dorm room feels almost like a mansion now haha

   

I am settled in now and my stuff is out of suitcase so it feels a bit more homey but definitely is a tight squeeze! Here is my side of the room now that I am moved in and then my closet/shelf.     

There is also a small desk at the end of my bed which is home to Ashley’s curling iron and my beloved hair curlers (which Maribel found to be hilarious!) They are goofy looking, I know. ūüėČ

Spaniards are VERY conservative with their water and electricity. Most lights automatically turn off after a few minutes which I found out when I was in the shower and suddenly everything went black. You just have to wave your arms around and then the motion triggers the lights again but I was temporarily very confused haha. ¬†Maribel does laundry one day a week and doesn’t use a dryer. There is no A/C, so we leave the windows open all the time, which is actually very pleasant. The only bedding on my bed is a fitted sheet and top sheet and that is all I need! I usually freeze at night so I packed a sweatshirt to sleep in and I quickly packed that right back in my suitcase.

This is one of the most notable differences between here and the US.

OU has partnered with Texas Tech (who has a campus here in Seville) and so there are a ton of Tech students buzzing around Seville (all of their engineering majors are required to study abroad), as well as students from Missouri Southern and Clemson. I am sure there are more, but that is who we have met.

Even with all these American college students running around, it is hard to find anyone here who speaks English. It can be a challenge, let me assure you. We have to take a bus just about everywhere because the city is so spread out. It is continually fascinating to me that it is these people’s way of every day life. It is crowded and busy and can be a bit of a challenge to navigate when you first are trying to figure it out.¬†For instance, on Tuesday, our first day of class, Ashley and I were trying to return home for lunch but we weren’t exactly sure which bus stop we were supposed to get off on so we just tried one.

Lesson #1: NEVER guess which bus stop you need– it ends very badly.

Long story short, we got very very lost and ended up far away from home with a bad cell service connection (aka no Google maps) and ended up wondering around the city trying to get somewhere familiar for 3 and a half hours. It was bad. We couldn’t find anyone who spoke English well enough to point us in the right direction of our bus stop and to make matters worse, the taxi service was on strike that day so our only mode of transportation was our feet. We weren’t too worried about it at first, as we were in ¬†a safe neighborhood, it was the middle of the day, and we were sure we could find a familiar spot and then get back on track. Well as thirty minutes turned to an hour and an hour turned to two hours and our stomachs started growling, we got a little panicked that we were way to far off the beaten path to give anyone a basic idea of where the heck we were. We stopped for lunch and took some deep breaths and a lovely selfie depicting how we were feeling at the moment about our so called “adventure.”

Our first full day in Spain and we are completely and totally lost. #yay #keepthepositivity #tryingnottofreakout

I think that time of being lost is the most helpless and confused I have ever been in my life. And if are being honest here, was miserable and not the best way to start  In the US, if you are lost, it is easy to just pop in somewhere and ask for direction and while we tried to do that here, no one could really help because ya know they speak a DIFFERENT language. It was a little scary, but we made it through and are now becoming more confident with the bus system, We eventually made it to the main part of the city and met up with the group for a tour of  the Hospital de la caridad here in Seville.

  

Taking a quick rest and attempting to recover ¬†from our 3.5 hour accidental side trip… ://

We toured the Hospital de la caridad, an old monastery that is now a retirement/nursing home for older men. The wild goose chase we went on was almost worth it once we saw the beautiful interior of the church.

   

So all is well.  Our days are full as we have class everyday from 9-12, study, siesta, and explore the city in the afternoon and then usually do a group activity at night. We have walked to the square to see the cathedral all lit up and tonight we went to watch a traditional Spanish flamenco dancer.

 

The absolute weirdest thing to me about Spain/what I am having the hardest time adjusting to is the time/eating schedule. It is so funky! I knew it was going to be this way before I got here, but experiencing it is something totally different than I expected. So we get out of class at 12pm and if I were at home, I would immediately go to eat lunch after class. However here, lunch isn’t served until 2:30 or sometimes 3. My body is programmed so differently than that and it has been a little hard to adjust, so I have been snacking on almonds to get me to lunch…

Then we eat dinner at 9:30!¬†The other night we went out out to eat with Maribel in the city center and we didn’t return home until midnight. From dinner!! By the time I showered and finished some homework, it was almost 2am, but the late nights do not seem to phase the Spaniards. The city really doesn’t come alive at night until 11:30… It is so strange to me. #thankfulforsiestatime

I am adjusting well and having a great time. It is definitely a challenge to be here at times and my brain hurts from always having to think about what I am trying to say or ask. Sometimes it takes Ashley and I a good 5 minutes and a lot of hand gestures to communicate one simple thing to Maribel.

I am a out of the “OU bubble” that surrounded me in Italy, but am definitely immersed in the authentic culture, which is exciting. I did not that many people coming into this trip, but everyone is very nice and it has been fun to make new friends.

Today we are heading south to the rock of Gibraltar on the coast and I am very excited! I will post pictures soon. Have a fabulous day everyone and eat some queso for me!! #nomexicanfoodinspain #allireallywant

Than you again for keeping me in your thoughts and prayers, my mom has told me several people have been asking about my trip or have texted her and I have received some very sweet texts too. Gracias!! ūüėČ

-Meredith

3 thoughts on “Hola Espana! First Impressions of Spain

  1. I understand Maribel’s frustration with PROBABLEMENTE. lol. Remember getting ready for your poster presentation. We switched words to make it decipherable. Wish I were thete to tutor you. Love this blog

  2. This is my favorite blog post yet! Such a great blend of the beauty and challenges of your experiences. I appreciate your personal touches, specific details and inserts of humor. We are so happy you are having this experience. Love, Mom

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