Yes, I fell in love this month. How typical..exchange year...romance. But who am I to argue? Who is this mystery lover you ask? Well its more like 46 million lovers. I fell in love with the country of Spain.
Now don´t go rechecking which blog your on, indeed I´m still on my exchange year in Germany. But a couple months ago my host family told me that during Winter Vacation they were going on a ski trip. They "kindly" told me they had no room in the car for me, and thereby I´d had to find someplace to stay for the break. At first I was a bit sad for being left out of a family trip, but I did understand that they had planned this trip before they took me in and that I fucking hate skiing. So I emailed a friend of mine who lives in Spain and asked if I could stay with her during my break, and that´s where my story begins.
I flew into Spain on the Thursday night before break began. I realized everyone on my plane was Spanish and quickly destroyed conversation with the guy next to me when he stopped midsentence after seeing I was reading a book in German. When I left Berlin it was -11 degrees and pouring snow. When I arrived in Madrid it was 12 degrees and balmy. Tip for travel: Never bring gloves, scarves, or anything you´d ever wear in Berlin on a trip to Spain, even in Winter. I was greeted at the gate by my friend Ana and her father. I got a kiss on both cheeks and had to tell them I wasn´t hungry 10 million times before they believed me (I had bought like a family sized bag of gummi bears for the plane ride, and actually felt quiet sick by then). I caught up on conversation with Ana on the 3 hour ride to Caceres and let the Spanishness start to sink in.
Oh right, that little detail I forgot to mention. I speak about 10 words of Spanish. And my list of words isn´t exactly...cohesive. Ajo= garlic. Maladie= illness. I know the numbers 1-6. Casa=house. Tranquile= calm down. Yes, for someone with a Cuban step Mom I sure don´t show it. Even better was the fact that Anas parents literally don´t speak a word of English. And this would be fine if Ana was there protecting my pride 24/7, but Ana had school and studying. She thereby awkwardly left me with her parents and my 10 words to survive. For a bit I felt total deja vu, as if I was returning to my first week in Germany. Lots of awkward smiles, hand gestures, and ¨no comprendo¨´s. But after 5 months as an exchange student, I find that awkwardness slides right off of me. Too many awkward moments this year has left me numb to them.
So Anas parents took me around town for hours and hours. We explored their city, which is absolutely beautiful. There are castles around every corner and torch lit streets. Theres tons of small Catholic churches which despite their size, are impeccably built. We also visited Santamanca, a college town where Anas siblings study. Her siblings were hilarious, trying out their English on me. Her brother would randomly turn to me and say things like, ¨You like Al Pacino?¨. I tried tons of Spanish food, which very rarely disappointed and tried to soak up as much of this culture as possible.
You see, Spain gave me what I´ve been searching for in Germany; a full, rich, distinct culture. In Spain they knew their history, ate Spanish food, listened to Spanish music, danced Spanish dances, and watched Spanish TV. They don´t try to be anyone else. Additionally, every Spaniard I met had a distinct personality, and one they definitely werent affraid to show. Unfortunately and unexpectadely, I got one of my worst bouts of homesickness during my time in Spain. I think its because all my stories of Spain before this came from my step Mom and I always imagined it as a place I would one day explore and discover with my parents by my side. I then got legit sick about halfway through my stay, due to the drinking water which I was warned contained bleach. Ana said they drink it cause their used to it, but it caused me to have headaches and a weasy stumach. Should have stuck to juice...
At the end of my trip here I realize how amazing it is that by a 3 hour plane ride I could end up in a totally different culture (something that in America would wind me up in say, Florida). The contrast between Germany and Spain is quiet shocking, but perhaps that made my trip all the more educational.
In 6 days I´ll have been here 5 months.When you start the journey you convince yourself that a year away is only that, a year. A small increment of time in the big scheme of things. But I find myself at the current moment in the ¨Wednesday Phase¨ as I like to call it. I´m right in the middle, looking at what I´ve done so far and also to the future. I´d like to finally join some extra curriculars such as a chorus and maybe art lessons or yoga. Cause time goes slow when you have time to sit and think here.
I shall post pictures once I return to German-land =D