Two weeks done. It feels surreal. I have found so much comfort and consistency in my home here that it feels like I could have been here for months already. At the same time, the days pass by so quickly. It’s hard to believe I’m already beginning week three.
The past week or so again, was filled with adaptation and exploration. I tried a lot of new “firsts” within the city and the Spanish culture. Last Sunday (January 15th), my roommate and I went for a walk around the city. We first went to Campo Grande, a beautiful little park only a short walk from our home. The little trails lead to hidden gems within the city, such as parks, duck ponds, and smaller gardens. Peacocks roam around freely. It’s so beautiful.
After a lovely stroll through Campo Grande, my roommate and I walked around the area. In our free time, we simply explore, get lost, find where we are, and repeat. It’s great. We witnessed the beauty of the city underneath the setting sun. It was enough to take my breath away. I don’t think I’ll ever hit a point where I’m not completely enthralled by my surroundings here.
On Monday, I went out for churros con chocolate with a friend and my roommate. It’s one of the most delicious parts of the Spanish culture… going out for churros in the early evening. You simply ask for “churros con chocolate para tres personas” along with a coffee if you desire, and they’ll bring you a huge plate along with individual cups of chocolate for the churros. It’s life-changing. I will definitely be a regular at El Castillo.
The three of us talked about our plans to travel to Portugal during Carnival, our four-day weekend at the end of February. I absolutely cannot wait to visit a new place, a new country. Out of excitement (and lack of activities during my free time), I have begun to learn some Portuguese. I’m not sure how far I’ll get, but hey, if we ever need to say “I am a woman” or “He eats an apple,” I got us covered.
The rest of the week was filled with the usual. Classes. The university life here (for us anyway) is quite different than that of UW-Stevens Point. Here, I only have 2-4 hours of class a day. I’m with the same students, and every day looks different. It’s hard to remember my schedule when each class is at a different time each day. Breaking away from the T/R and M/W/F schedule will take some time, but I enjoy the variety. My classes are all very interactive and fun, and homework outside of class is very minimal. My “busiest day” consisted of two short worksheets and a few questions for literature. It’s quite different.
Although I like education without the stress, it feels weird having so little to do and having so much free time. That is why I want to pick up another language, find ways to study Spanish more intensely, or even find some online resources related to psychology. Whatever it looks like, I want to find something more vigorous to add to my learning.
Food, as always, has been phenomenal. I love continuously eating soups, salads, and other delicious meals that are packed with nutrients. My home life is great. My host mom is an incredible cook, and she has yet to prepare something that I don’t completely love.
Not too much else has been going on in my everyday life. Usually, my afternoons and evenings are super relaxing. I’ll typically go for a walk or for coffee with my roommate (yes, Spain is turning me into a coffee person?).
Friday night, I went out with a friend. Again, we went for churros con chocolate, but we also hit up several clothing stores along the way. With so many cute clothes and unbeatable sales, I had been itching to do some shopping. I bought six really cute shirts and a pair of boots all for under 80 euros. Everyone is Spain has really great style, and I’m excited to have a few pieces of that now. My wardrobe is much happier.
Saturday, we had our first class excursion to Segovia, less than a couple hours away from Valladolid. It is a cute little city rich in history. We walked around touring the beautiful churches and castles. An ancient Roman aqueduct runs through the city, and it was incredible to see. And of course, there were plenty of places to have a beautiful view of the nearby mountains and the rest of the city. I loved everything about Segovia. I’ll keep this part short in hopes of writing a separate blog post about my excursion.
Sunday was my lazy day. Filled with a lot of rest and me time. I had some quiet time with the Lord and a lot of time to come up with ideas for the rest of my semester. It was great to cast a more clear vision for myself and my time here. In the near future, I’m hoping to become more connected with people, especially the locals. I would love to find people to practice my Spanish with, and I would love to be a resource for others to practice English. I also want to find some sort of opportunity related to psychology, perhaps a volunteer opportunity or a “job shadow” with a psychologist, professor, or life coach. I guess we’ll see!
Earlier in the week, I booked a flight to Uruguay for my spring break. Of course, it seems logical to travel Europe during this time, to maybe visit somewhere new. But no, I’ve always been one to find beauty beyond the realm of logic. In my short six weeks in Uruguay, I was completely enamored by the people, the culture, and the country. I needed more time to soak it in, and I told myself I would return. With accommodations in line, travel money saved up, and an inexpensive ticket available, it only seemed obvious. Now is my time. This is the best decision I could make.
To conclude this post, I want to say that everything is wonderful here. I feel so much appreciation and love for these past couple weeks, and I cannot wait to see what is yet to come. Adjusting has been really smooth. I have been rather lazy with my Spanish, but I hope to push past that and fully immerse myself in the language. These past couple days, I have been intensely craving cookies, french fries, and pretty much any unhealthy American food in between. I love eating clean and healthy, but man, the withdrawals are hitting me. I’m hoping these will fade soon enough (or that I can find some kind of snack). I don’t have the convenience of driving to one store to buy whatever I want. Instead, I have to pick a day other than Sunday (everything is closed then), and go for a little adventure to find a bakery, ice cream shop, or grocery store. It’s lovely.
I hope that life is going well for everyone else. For those of you back home, have a successful second semester, and enjoy the lovely Midwest winter for me. (; I’m sending you prayers and warm wishes from Spain!