Posts

Showing posts from September, 2012

Weekly Update 1: Jetlag Edition

Image
After a day (two days?) of traveling, I have finally made it from my home in Texas to my home for the next year: Spain.

On Sunday, I spent the better half of a day in the skies, flying from DFW to Philadelphia to Madrid. On the trans-Atlantic flight, I was blessed to sit by none other than a fellow language assistant named Annie—what an awesome surprise! We hit it off pretty quickly, commiserated over how crazy the application process was, and compared notes on traveling and speaking Spanish. Once we landed, we stuck together through customs and terminal transfers and had a little breakfast at the airport before parting ways. It was really great to get through the most stressful part of the adventure with someone who spoke English and was doing the exact same thing. Our paths divided in the morning as Annie had to take the bus up north to Galicia.

On Monday (now on Spanish time), I took the Cercanías commuter rail directly from the airport to Madrid’s Atocha train station and got a ti…

3 Attitudes I Don’t Want This Blog to Have, and 3 I Do

Image
Before I embark on the next phase of my life (i.e., blogging the next phase of my life), I’d like to clarify certain angles that I’m trying to avoid as I write for you, my dear reader. I’ve pored over my fair share of expat/language assistant blog posts in preparation for the North American Language and Culture Assistant program in Spain this fall, so I’ve seen the best—and the worst—of Americans abroad online. Below are three attitudes that I will try to refrain from indulging in on this blog, as well as three I’d like to cultivate.


1) The magical travel blog.~*mY fAbUlOuS aDvEnTuRe*~. In a magical travel blog, EVERYTHING about life in Spain is “amazing.” Living in the U.S. is just so unhealthy, and the Spanish lifestyle is so lively and exciting. Writers in this category emphasize all the good aspects of life and brush over the hard parts. Their blogs tend to lack many day-in-the-life-of posts and are full of accounts detailing weekend getaways to Italy, Egypt, Belgium, or Ireland. …

Culture Shock Before Even Setting Foot in Spain

Image
The other day I was emailing the director of the school I’m going to be working at in Spain this year, and was feeling frustrated because he wanted to meet up in a nearby town to discuss my first visit to the school. I agreed and tried to nail down a time and place to meet but got no reply. This was starting to annoy me because I’d really like to hit the ground running once I arrive, but can’t, because I don’t know where to go or when.

Then it hit me—CULTURE SHOCK. My school director wasn’t being noncommittal, rude, or shifty at all. He was just illustrating Hispanic culture, a culture in which being more laid-back is the norm and strictly holding to a schedule is simply unheard-of. I couldn’t believe it when I realized I was already experiencing culture shock; I haven’t even left the States yet!

So basically, I just need to chill out and not worry about not knowing everything. I think there’s a phrase in Spain for this: no pasa nada.

Ten days are all I’ve got left at home. I can’t b…

9 Ways I Experienced Culture Shock in Costa Rica

Image
In less than three weeks I’ll be setting foot in Spain for the first time, and will be experiencing Spanish culture shock as well. As I begin to pack my bags, I’m mentally preparing myself for the patience I’ll need and for all of the kisses I’ll get (in greetings, duh). This has reminded me of the culture shock I felt when I studied abroad in Costa Rica last year. Studying abroad is fun, but sometimes it sucks, and culture shock is one of its hardest parts. Here are nine ways I experienced this facet of life abroad.

1) The rain It rained right after class almost every single day, and not just a wimpy sprinkle, but a full-on downpour. Coming from Texas, where we often have droughts in the summer, I wasn’t prepared for these daily storms. They were kind of a downer because we had to stay indoors for the remaining daylight hours and couldn’t go exploring the town.

2) Crazy traffic In the States, the pedestrian has the right of way, but in Costa Rica, the driver has the right of way. I c…