While I enjoy being here and am glad that I came, I definitely started experiencing homesickness about a month into being here and still deal with it at least every other day. Sometimes there are days when I am always on the brink of tears and wish I hadn’t come and can’t see the reason why I’m here. But then something great happens, like I’ll spend time with my friends or roommates, and I can’t imagine being anywhere else in the world and can’t wait for the rest of the year! Or there will be times when I feel like I’m dying a little inside every time I have to speak in Spanish, but then my roommates told me tonight that my Spanish is getting a lot better, and now I can’t wait to speak more Spanish! It’s hard with my emotions constantly fluctuating like that but I’m really enjoying everything (nearly) about being here.
Okay, I do have some qualms about Spain. First, a little while back I bought a lovely leather backpack from the street market because it’d be nice to have a backpack while traveling, and all the girls seem to have one here, too. So I put it out on the balcony to air out, and within a couple days it was gone! I searched EVERYWHERE and we still have no idea where it could have gone except that maybe the neighbors from upstairs went fishing for it on our balcony and reeled it up, but that just seems ridiculous.
Second, Spain does not have clothes dryers – or, more importantly, none available for me to use. I knew this beforehand, but this wouldn’t be as big a deal if it didn’t constantly rain (another qualm later). So even when my clothes finally dry after about a week, they are never fully dry because I have to wear them in the rain. And they dry all hard and crusty as if they have plaster on them… will I ever have warm, dry clothes again?
Another thing I’ve had to get used to is having to turn the gas tank on and actually lighting it with a lighter in order to get hot water in the shower. And if there isn’t enough gas, guess who gets to take an ice bath? The gas tank isn’t a big deal until you forget to turn it back off and the gas is wasted. Same with the stove – no automatic gas here in the apartment.
And so there’s the rain. Again, I knew this was coming, but it’s about 2 weeks now of almost non-stop rain (although today was sunny and warm – my clothes are thankful) and apparently the weather doesn’t get better until April??? And of course I left my rain boots at home and slipped on my right knee yesterday because the boots I was wearing are not meant for the rain so now my knee is black and blue. And I can’t find any rain boots here that are less than 20 euros because the Spaniards and smarter foreign students have already picked up their pairs before I decided to get some.
There are several things I like about Santiago, of course. For one, there is a bakery literally on every block (I think I pass 4 or 5 just walking to class) with cases and windows full of treats and fresh bread. Today I really needed something sweet so I got one of those black and white cookies and scarfed it down while browsing around the stores 🙂 And the heavenly smell every time I pass by isn’t bad either.
There are also several grocery stores as well as everything-you-could-need stores (mainly run by Chinese folks) on nearly every block. The grocery stores have pretty much everything I need, like fruit, juice, pasta supplies, and frozen goods which I mostly eat. However, the only problem has been finding a good milk. The milk here in Spain is normally not fresh, but has a lot of preservatives and is kept on the SHELF in the store. So, it’s able to sit at room temperature for WEEKS. I think my milk expires in a month and it’s sitting and waiting in my cupboard. Same with my eggs – they are also found on the shelf in the store and don’t expire for months. But anyway, I found a milk that works well for me and is cheap. It’s just strange picking it off the shelf as if it’s a bag of chips or something.
Another good thing about Spain is that my Spanish is already improving, as I was told today by my roommates. Normally when I speak I need a few minutes to translate what I want to say first in my head, then I need a few minutes to actually get the meaningless noises out of my mouth. But now it’s come to be that not only do I respond and understand quickly in Spanish, but the words actually mean something! I understand how to say it because it’s Spanish, not because I first translated it from English, if that makes sense. Basically, I’m becoming more fluent.
The best thing of Spain for sure is all of the new friends I’ve made. From my patient Spaniard roommates who always take the time to speak more slowly and explain things to me, to my Erasmus buddies from England, Ireland, France, Portugal, the U.S., and even India, I feel like I’ve known a lot of them for years and would not be able to be here without them. It feels really strange that by next June I’ll have known them for a year and it’s very likely I won’t ever see most or even any of them ever again 🙁 In the meantime I’ll enjoy getting to know everyone as we live together and travel throughout Spain and the rest of Europe. Just this past weekend, for example, 13 of us Erasmus students went to Madrid together. No better way to get to know people than to share a giant hostel room with 12 of your friends! 🙂
I wish my family and boyfriend were here to share all these experiences with me, though! And it definitely stinks not having my cat around to play with 🙁 And I could really use some home-cooking as I’ve been eating nothing but pasta and eggs and have dropped a few “kilos” as a result. But, I’ve been learning that the best way to get through homesickness is to go out and have fun and always have something to look forward to. So, I have some potential trips to Lisbon, London, Rome, and Paris in mind. But I’m mostly excited for Max to visit for Christmas (p.s. I miss you!) 🙂
All right – that’s all my rambling for one night.
Until next time or trip!