It is Day 20 of my summer abroad program in Spain. Last week, someone who has been here for a while told me that ‘once you hit Day 20, it will feel like you have been here for a year’. At this point, my time here has stretched beyond the duration of a vacation, and it starts to feel like real life. The ones who are here for short-term are ready to go back to their regular lives, while I start to establish regular life here in Spain.
This past week and a half, we continued with our cultural activities in the program. Early last week we did an olive oil food tasting, where we tasted several different types of traditional olive-oil based plates. We have learned the importance of olive oil in Spanish cooking, and many in the program have seen comically large bottles of it in their host homes. Later in the week we went to the Arabic Baths, which is a very quiet and relaxing room with tea and several different wading pools, varying in-depth and heat levels. Early this week we took part in an introductory flamenco lesson, and watched a flamenco espectaculo afterwards. Michelle Obama came here and watched the show several years ago; it is one of their claims to fame.
After the flamenco espectaculo, we walked back home through the classical architectural part of town, near the Alhambra Palace. The part of city is lit up and very beautiful at night, it is one of my favorite parts of the city.
Last Sunday, I turned 20 on a beach in the southern coast of Spain. Two others in my program shared a birthday with me that weekend. I spent my birthday exploring the city, taking in sun on the beach, and doing water activities like kayaking, snorkeling, and paddle boating. I returned to my host house that night, exhausted and sun-kissed, to a beautiful bouquet of flowers from my family back home. It was a very fulfilling day!
During my free time I rest, do homework, take some much-needed me-time, and do some individual cultural immersion with roommates/friends from the program. Some of us have been getting into the world cup, and we like to watch Spain’s games at sports bars in the city. This is a very popular tradition here, and it is similar to the sports bar atmosphere during the NFC Championship games and the Super Bowl, back in the states. It’s very interesting to experience this familiar sports bar atmosphere with soccer instead of american football, and with fans from so many different cultures around the world. I also enjoy intercambios, which is a cultural immersion event that takes place in a bar and hostel here in town. It has been a fun opportunity to meet Spanish native friends and practice second languages.
I am definitely settling into life here, and it feels like I have been here for a while, but not yet a year. It is summer, so everything moves very fast, with occasional slow times. Much more to come!