“There are two ways to get into the water. First you take your toe and you gently test the water’s temperature, and if that feels okay, then you slowly get in, letting your body adjust to the cold. Then there’s this way – you JUMP!” -Mary Katherine Gallagher (Superstar 1999)
There is nothing that can prepare you for your first week abroad. You have just jumped into water filled with a different language, schedule, accent, mode of transportation and school. You suddenly have new family, apartment, bedroom and food. Everything seems so different at first. But after a week, you realize that it isn’t so different here.
I have just finished my first week of studying abroad in Málaga, Spain and it was glorious. (Here’s a little map for ya).
When I got off the bus, I immediately met my host mom who whisked my roommate, Marisa, and I away to the apartment. She doesn’t speak English, which I expected, but I can understand her pretty well through the Andalusian accent. The responding, forming a sentence, conjugating a verb and adding the accents within seconds is where I struggle. Anyways… When we rounded the corner of the apartment building, there it was: the Mediterranean Sea. Only half block from my new home, I might add.
I was so anxious that first night. I had questions up the ying yang. What would be for dinner? Is there wifi? What would this family be like? Am I going to be sharing a room? Will I ever be able to relax? (Answers: Tortilla Patatas, Yes, Awesome, No and Hopefully).
I have a Señora and Señorita, a mother and daughter duo, that live together in a four bedroom apartment. Their first reaction to me after the double cheek kisses hello: “Blanca, Blanca, Blanca!” (meaning: Wow, you’re really pale!) Hahahaha The red hair, pale skin and freckles combination is not something they see often. So, my Señora nicknamed me “Leche” the Spanish word for milk. Hey, I would rather have a nickname than not have one. They host foreign exchange students like myself constantly and My Señora has been hosting students for the last 35 years! They know what they are doing and are very used to the nervous first night. I couldn’t have asked for more comforting and friendly people to be staying with.
The first week of school has been… well school. I really enjoy my Spanish Culture and Civilization class because it is fascinating information and the teacher is incredibly charismatic. She uses google to show us pictures of what we are talking about and fills the time with stories about festivals, history, foods and norms. Really interesting class. When I have a break in class I go across the street to grab a bocadillo (Sandwich) and an espresso for only two Euros. Who knew a little snacky could be so cheap!My other class I am taking is Spanish Language that includes a grammar portion and conversation portion. The conversation portion is fun but the grammar is challenging, like normal. My brain is science and math based so this class will be the most challenging, however probably the most rewarding. Normally I will have classes from 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM. But, this week we were making up hours since this is only a month long program so I had class from 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM and 4:00 PM to 6:30 PM… holy class batman. But I got the first week of classes out of the way! Yippie!
I haven’t had much time to relax or siesta during the day this first week. But, I got to sit on the beach a little bit and it was so relaxing. I will have to get used to the topless women and the naked babies running around though. Hey, that’s Spain for ya. My Program has organized a couple of things to do this week like a tour around Málaga and a language exchange with Spanish university students. Next week should be filled with more exploring the city and museums. Stay tuned for more blog posts featuring Spanish food and drinks, a weekend in Seville and how I am managing to keep in shape through my travels. I can’t believe this is all really happening!