As you all remember http://blog.laurentian.ca/students/?p=8484 I am doing an exchange in Spain during my degree here at Laurentian.
Here in Spain, I wake up every morning… me against the world. Most days I win by a landslide. Making it all on my own, going, coming, eating and dancing as I please. It’s like a dream… until the world throws a cheap shot and knocks me off my feet. As we all have heard in one too many cheesy inspirational quotes…the most crucial part of the fight is regrouping in the corner and jumping back in the ring stronger than ever balboa style.
Independence. That’s what I’m taking about PEOPLE.
Sometimes tastes like Nutella warmed up in the microwave for 15 seconds… mmm… and other times like lemon juice with hot sauce and vinegar. (Don’t literally try that flavor at home folks.)
Nonetheless, satisfying to swallow. Let me explain WHY.
Every day I breathe in the fresh Spanish air. Plans are spontaneous and I’m always meeting great people from all over the world. This is my heaven on earth. Each conversation is a learning experience on a new perspective, new style, new food and a new way of life. The cherry on top is that I’m learning it all through a language that is not my own. What a feeling! In Spain they say “nunca te vas a dormir sin saber una cosa nueva” which means “never go to bed without learning something new”. The people I meet are exceptional, strange and everything in between.
The more people I meet, the prouder I am to be Canadian. I am the only Canadian at my university and I absolutely love telling people about Canada and watching them pick up their jaw off the floor when I tell them about our -30 winters. However, I seem a lot less Canadian when they see me shivering in the +9 degree weather. I can’t help it! I have the Canadian blood it just doesn’t circulate properly!
Another thing, travelling is ALWAYS an option. I’ve learnt that with an optimistic attitude the plans create themselves, whether it be trying a new Tapas bar in Ciudad Real or taking a weekend vacation to Seville it’s all available and affordable. Once you’re here (Europe) you’re everywhere (Europe). It’s just that easy. My favorite part is the first impression of a new place. It’s the charm of adventure I tell you!
To avoid starving to death, I have learnt how to cook! I’m no Chef Emerald, but I sure do know how to sauté a mushroom or two. Before I came to Spain I was asking myself: Do they have “el Kraft dinner”? How on earth was I going to buy food for myself… and then heaven forbid… cook the food? I’m just as shocked as my family, but I throw an onion in the pan with some olive oil and 15 minutes later I have a semi-gourmet meal.
I WOULD LIKE TO THANK: my Italian roommate Caterina and my Turkish roommate Secil for always believing in me and loving me for who I am not what I can or can’t cook.
So far out of the friends I have fed,no one has died. I’d say I’m doing fantastic.
Noobody told me before I left, but when I get sick here… I have to take care of myself. Nonna doesn’t just appear out of thin air with chicken soup and mandarins to tuck me into bed (I’m still waiting on that)
Strangely enough, I have had about 2 brutal colds that have stopped me dead in my tracks since I arrived. The Canadian gets colds in Spain… HA HA very funny…NOT. Without my mom, I thought for sure that would be the end of Brianna Elizabeth Coffey. Don’t worry, it wasn’t (I wouldn’t be writing this blog if it were).
What did I do? I sucked it up butter cup. I made the executive decision to take the day off and actually take care of my own self… by myself. I bought vitamin C, lemons, tea, halls and tucked myself in under my cozy covers. Turns out I’m my own best friend now. I’m always there when I need me. I’ve learnt self-love and self-care go a long way in tough times.
I’m good to myself and all, but I have had moments of homesickness just the same. I miss my family my boyfriend and my friends. But a quick facetime, text or call can really hit the spot. I know the hugs will feel that much more amazing in 5 months’ time. Don’t kid yourself though, I still cry about once a week. I’m just an emotional person OKAY.
I have also had my fair share of clueless moments, at least a dozen times a day. In my classes, in conversation with friends, or trying to ask if a shop sells Brita filters, for example. Never a dull moment. The joys of learning a new language! Hand signals go a long way.
Sometimes life here can be severely awkward… but I have learned to laugh at my mistakes. I imagine that for the Spaniards… they talk to the Canadian for cheap entertainment. Oddly enough, funny awkward conversation is a great way to remember new vocabulary.
Now I know this may sound like a 1st world problem…because it absolutely is, but for the first month in my new apartment the internet was down. As frustrating as it was not being about to call my family and friends from the comfort of my home… this inconvenience forced me to embark on the quest for internet in just about every café in Ciudad Real.
Life tip: turn your inconveniences into adventures!
How I Gulp it all Down.
When things get tough and overwhelming… I’ve learnt to take the time to appreciate how far I’ve come. In the times of reflection I take a deep breath and go easy on myself. Something that was completely foreign to me before this exchange. You don’t need to be half way across the world to cut yourself some slack when the going gets tough. The student life is one heck of an experience, but it’s also not easy with the stress of classes, added commitments and balancing a social life.
I am learning to appreciate the uncomfortable because it forces me to better myself in ways I never imagined.
I am not afraid to make a fool of myself, or for things to go wrong. I am simply in Spain celbrating life every chance I get!
I am walking around like a naked turtle. I left my shell on the plane.
Signed, you’re Cup of L.U Coffey