A Change of Pace

It’s been a month since I first packed up the necessities of my life and traveled across the country to live in an unfamiliar place. To me, college has made me realize that home really isn’t about the place I grew up or the feeling of familiarity I get when I walk into my room. To me, home is more the feeling of comfort I get when I am with the people who are part of my life. So when I first arrived in Spain, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to find that here.

But recently I’ve began to find my home here, the group of friends that give me comfort when I see their faces in a crowded room.

As I’ve started to get into the swing of things here and really unpacked my life, I’ve realized that the Spanish lifestyle has a much different pace than the United States. What I mean is, Spaniards are in a lot less of a rush to get from point A to B. Even in the city centers, bustling with people, there isn’t a lot of pushing or shoving — more everyone walking casually and at the same pace.

However the biggest cultural difference that I have noticed is the fact that barely anything is open on Sundays. Supermarkets, shops, pharmacies … all closed on Sundays. There are a few cafes open but that is about it. I like the notion of having a day off each week to solely focus on yourself and family. I think this is a really good representation of the Spanish culture and the life around them.

Getting into a routine here has made me realize how much I miss the comfort of having familiarity in life. I think the hardest part for me so far adjusting to a new country is the unknown. Just the other day I was in need of finding a new power adapter and it took me the longest time to figure out where in the city I could buy one.

But it’s times like these where I learn the most about the city I am living in. I get to experience the daily life of people living here. It allows me to feel like a little less of a tourist and a little more like an everyday local.

Aside from experiencing the life, I feel that my daily routine has also adjusted to the lifestyle here. I go to bed at a much later time nowadays, and I eat dinner at around 8 pm now. I wake up at a much later time, usually around 11 a.m. — my first class doesn’t start until 12:30 p.m., so I usually have a lot of free time in the morning.

Classes here are much different than classes back at home. First off, instead of only having one set time of when classes are held, most here have three sections: seminarios, practicas and clase magistral. Clase magistral are equivalent to lectures back at home, with professors lecturing on the subject for about an hour and half. The seminarios and practicas are more group work with class times devoted to discussions in between groups and group projects for the day. Class times also differ from week to week so it’s important to always check the times of each class to make sure you head to class on time.

Listening to lectures in Spanish hasn’t been that bad, but it takes a lot more concentration for me. The first week was a tough adjustment going into classes and only hearing Spanish, but after a month of school I’m starting to get used to it.

Tiffany Huang is an international business senior. She is studying abroad in Bilbao, Spain for a full semester.

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