The Transition: Week 1

15 Sep

My first week in Granada was definitely an adjustment! It is a strange experience entering a new country and just having to get used to a new way of life. Even the smallest things are simply different (like the locks, but don’t worry, I figured out how to open the doors by now!) This week was a lot of orientation: to the program, the city, and to our new host families.

There are so many differences between life in Granada and life back in the US. The first major one is time. Here, time has little importance. In fact, there is not even a clock in the entire apartment where I am staying. In the US, I have 3 in my kitchen alone. The other night, my host mom said that she was going out and would be back shortly. She returned over 2 and a half hours later! Everyone on the streets just meanders as if they don’t have a place to be. Needless to say, that is a lot of people who get in the way of my fast pace. And, everyone stays out so late! It is seriously sad when I am walking back from a night out around 1, and there are still little kids out and about. I know that I have a tendency to go to bed early, but seeing all of these little kids out, when I am ready to crash, really does not make me feel good about myself!

Another major difference are the meals. Breakfast is around 8, lunch around 2:30 and dinner around 10. Yes, we have to wait almost 8 hours in between lunch and dinner! Plus, the Spanish don’t really believe in snacks, so by the time 10 rolls around, I am just glad that I have not eaten my arm off. I mean, sometimes, a girl just needs some pretzels. The meal sizes are absolutely enormous and it is considered rude if you don’t finish it all. So, we do a lot of eating, especially of carbs. But, according to my host mom, that’s okay, because bread has a lot of protein! Don’t I wish. I swear, the amount of pasta my host mom serves my roommate and I could feed my entire family back home, with some leftover. With portion sizes like this, I have no idea how the Spanish stay so thin! Needless to say, I will be running quite a bit so that I don’t come back to America having gained the Spanish Seventeen.

And of course, another huge difference is the language. Although I consider myself a decent Spanish speaker, the real world is much different than a classroom. I cannot even count the amount of times I have responded to my host mom with a blank stare or an awkward laugh, because I could not quite understand what she was saying. So, the dinner table conversations are very awkward. We do have many a conversation about her garden though!

Aside from all the differences, I am really enjoying my time here in Granada. There are so many pretty buildings, fountains and historical locations. It is an awesome experience to get to see a different part of the world. Luckily, within the past week we have taken many excursions to see the city and the historical sites. On Friday, we got to see the Cathedral of Granada and the Capilla Real. The Cathedral was pretty and all that, but I loved the Capilla Real. It is where the tombs/caskets of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand are. We got to see the actual caskets that hold their actual remains!!! It was one of the most exciting days of my life. I was dying. Some people in the group couldn’t wait to leave, but I was simply starstruck by the royal presence in the tombs. Image

This is what the caskets look like in case you were dying to know!

On Saturday, we also took a walk through Albaicin, the oldest neighborhood in Granada. The entire walk was uphill and I almost fell flat on my face multiple times due to uneven cobblestones, but it was worth it. The views are absolutely incredible, and of course, I loved hearing about the history of all of the places! Plus, since we did the walk on Saturday afternoon, there were a lot of weddings going on. So we creepily stood outside the churches and watched the bride and groom come out, so we could judge what they were wearing. It was, essentially, a real life version of 4 Weddings!


The view of the city from Albaicin.

And then on Sunday, I decided to be a risk taker and go to church all by myself. I know, I am living a wild life here in Spain! The church was absolutely gorgeous. However, there was only so much that I could understand. As dedicated of a church-goer as I am, it was simply too much to think of the prayer in English and then translate it into Spanish. I am simply not that talented. And then, instead of people walking up to get communion in a calm and organized manner, it was a mad stampede up to the front! It caught me totally off guard. I saw more people walking fast to get communion in church, than I did on the streets the entire week!

Well, Week 1 has flown by, and I can’t wait to see what Week 2 has in store for me!


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