Name: Lucy S.
Home School: Penn State University
On the way home from Morocco yesterday [will post about trip later], I awoke from my nap to a quiet bus, and as I gazed out the window at the sun setting over beautiful green plains of the Spanish countryside, I felt so peaceful and at home. And as I sat there, I had a revelation: I want to make a life for myself in Spain. Although I'm only here for two months, I want to live as though I'll be here for 2 years and not treat this experience as though it were a vacation. And this starts largely with detaching myself from an American things and embracing the unfamiliar. In my 12 days here so far, my Spanish has improved a lot and I've talked to many Spaniards. I've had an amazing time, but I realized that I still don't really know that much about Spanish culture. I know surface level things like how they have siesta and I learned a bit about college students' views on society from this survey I did for Spanish class, but there are so soso many more things I don't understand at all--like how they view Americans, their hopes and dreams, the types of things they do with friends, how much they study, and on and on and on. I'm sure that there are many answers to all these questions and maybe you can't generalize answers. Or maybe if you do generalize answers, they would end up being similar to young people all around the world. Or maybe they're not really that different from my friends and I in the US. All I am certain of is that I can't answer any of these questions about one single person here.
Coming here with such a large group of American students is comforting and provides a great support system, but I don't want to rely on them. I'm not here to make American friends--I can do that anywhere in America. I'm here to really throw myself into Spanish society and learn as much as I can about them in a short two months. My plan of action is mainly to venture alone into everyday Spanish life more. I want to meet students not at bars and clubs, but at school, volunteering, and church. I'm going to try to go to the University a couple times a week to do my homework, and when I need help, I'll ask the Spaniards. This will not only help me learn Spanish, but also provides and excuse to talk to and hopefully befriend Spanish college students. And not going to lie--I wouldn't mind meeting some cute Spanish guy. Also, since volunteering is such a big part of my life normally, I want to do it here too. I would love to be an English or Chinese tutor (maybe through the University?) or maybe even work at some sort of daycare (or both). And I also really want to attend Church to see what it's like in Spain (both Catholic and Protestant). This will be a little harder though because I only have 3 Sundays left since I'm traveling many of the weekends. I will also try to read Spanish books, listen mostly to Spanish music, and watch only Spanish TV.
To clarify, while I really want to spend more time with Spanish people, I'm not going to sever ties with my American friends here or anything. I just want to rebalance my priorities and spend less time with Americans. I'll already see them everyday during class and on weekends during travel so I don't need to go out with them every night. That's one more point that I wanted to emphasize: at the beginning of this trip, Emily told me that her sister's one regret from studying abroad was not going out enough. I realized that that would never be my regret. My regret would only be that I didn't spend enough time with Spanish people and didn't learn enough about Spanish culture. And with that, I now know what's most important to me.