Thursday, January 5, 2012

A New Life

As the vacation portion of my adventure goes on hold, I am introduced to new people, new food, and new surroundings. On the 3rd of December, I was put up in a room with another student for the night by our study abroad program. The following evening I met my Senora, or Host-Mom, for the first time. E is a single parent with a young daughter, M, and a cat named Sita.

E prepares my dinners and breakfasts, does my laundry, and talks to me in Spanish. M draws pictures, plays with toys, and tells me everything about anything in her rapid Catalan. Sita hides under my bed, climbs on my desk, and meows snobbishly at me.
I have a tiny bedroom, that I think was originally a coat closet. There is just enough room between the wall and my bed for a pair of shoes and my backpack to fit. My desk is out in the hall, where Sita joins me and expresses her valuable opinion on my position, or attacks my arm.

With my free time between orientation and the beginning of classes, I am getting to know a few of the other students in my program. Among those in my program are people from all across the US. It is amazing to see the different attitudes and cultures just within our own country. It is a major adjustment to find that the only people I can communicate fully with still do not completely understand me. It seems that a great majority of them are here to enjoy the nightlife more than experience the wonders of the city and culture of the region.

I have heard more than one student complain that Spanish is not the primary language in Barcelona. I can understand their frustration, but feel it is misplaced. When undertaking a new chapter of one's life, things are rarely exactly what we expect. Going to a new place means there will be things about the culture that surprise us, will sometimes inconvenience us, but also make us stronger people if we can rise to the challenge. I hope that in time these students will learn to tolerate and even embrace these unexpected quirks of this society. When going to any new place, an open mind and curious spirit are the most important things to bring.

That is all for now. Check back in a few days for an update about what I've been seeing and some pictures.

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