I’m currently 7 hours into my 10 hour flight and the fact that my study abroad experience has ended still hasn’t fully sunk in. In order to avoid the bottomless pit of sentimentally that is sure to hit me any time now, here’s a post about all the things I won’t miss about Spain.
I won’t miss the lack of puppy cuddles I got to experience while in Spain. It’s not that they don’t have dogs of all shapes and sizes, it’s just apparently socially inappropriate to pet a stranger’s puppy. Thus, except for some strays that unfortunately were very dirty and matted and kind of gross (no offense to them, it’s not their fault the don’t have a home), I have been fully deprived of petting and spending time with dogs. I’m just hours away from seeing my own puppies and I could not be more ecstatic!
I will not miss the open stares that people give you in Spain. I guess the concept of discreteness just isn’t a thing in Spain. I have been stared down for minutes on end by the same people, and not necessarily just because I’m American – there are plenty of us and Granadians are used to non-Spanish people living and walking the streets, but for some reason they like to focus on relentlessly focus on people one at a time.
Also in terms of Spaniards, I won’t miss the lack of greetings with people on the street. Especially being from the south, when I’m walking down the street I tend to smile at people as I pass them, even if they are a stranger. If you do this in Spain, you will get even more weird looks/blatant stares.
I will not miss the schedule. Although eating lunch at 3 and dinner at 9 or 10 was an interesting experience, it was hard at times. I’m a grandma and I like to eat my dinner at a solid 5:30 or so. Going out for tapas (although amazing and fairly simple), still takes at least and hour and half, so I might be rolling home from dinner at 11:30 at night which was the struggle with trying to complete all of my homework, plus go to bed at a somewhat reasonable time – again, as a grandma, I usually call it quits around 11:30 every night to go to bed, but in this case a standard night was 1 in the morning which was hard for me at times.
I will not miss the ridiculously slick streets. Even on sunny days, there are some cobblestoned or tiled streets that are deadly. Don’t even get me started on the days that it’s rainy. And it’s not just the Americans that struggle with the streets – my host mom has fallen and I once witnessed a small 4 year old girl absolutely EAT it one day. I’ve slipped and embarrassingly caught myself more times than I can count. Who knew walking could be so hazardous? Even the public transportation services struggle and the time tables get completely messed up. Rain that far south in Spain is pretty uncommon, so it kind of shuts down the city, just like Snowpocalypse 2k15 did in Atlanta
Speaking of public transportation – although it was so nice being able to utilize an extensive inner city bus network for fairly cheap, I miss driving. I miss the freedom of getting into my car, blasting my music and just going to whichever place that interests me. I miss being able to make spontaneous decisions to go adventure without having to worry about bus schedules and tickets.
This next point is super random and very specific, but the door to our apartment wasn’t an actual doorknob? It was this giant bulbous thing attached in the middle of the door but at the height of a little person. Even up until the last day, there were times when I tried to open or close the door, forgot how low down it was and then had to hunch down and make it work. I felt pretty stupid every time that happened (and trust me it was pretty often).
I will not miss the absolutely freezing apartments we lived in. Some apartments have central heating, others do not. Ours technically did have one, but it was broken (of course) so we ended up having a radiator that we would plug in for a few hours every night. But let me tell you, waking upon the middle of the night shivering is a pretty common occurrence, and don’t even get me started on trying to use the bathroom or take a shower during the morning or at night. Ya girl had all the goosebumps all the time.
I also will not miss my squeaky ass bed. It was comfortable enough with plenty of blankets and pillows, but even with the slightest movement, the most horrifying creak would emanate and bring with it small echoes of regret. I’m pretty sure I woke Lauren up a few times this way on nights when I was especially restless. Sorry Lauren.
I will not miss the fish of Spain. I hate seafood. Like with an ardent, burning passion. Spaniards though, love seafood, especially nasty canned tuna. Even though we told our host mom that we don’t look like fish, we should still get it because her thought process was, “this is the most basic sort of fish filet or shrimp or clams of course they’ll love it, how could they not it’s a staple!” There were a few very rough comidas where all we were served was fish and we had to tuck in as if we weren’t absolutely disgusted.
Spanish public bathrooms are the worst. They either don’t have toilet seats, toilet paper, or both if the universe is just really against you that day. After struggling with the squat or sending an SOS signal to a friend for some TP, oftentimes you were then left without actual hand soap. Goodbye subpar Spanish bathrooms, I will not miss you!!
I will not miss the segway guys lurking outside of Plaza Nueva (where the IES center is located) that asked me EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. if I wanted to test drive the segways or scooters or trying to get me to go on a tour with them. Like seriously dudes, I’m carrying a book bag with me usually AND you see me at least 2 or 3 days a week. Why you still gotta ask me?
I will not miss awkward cultural encounters. To a certain extent, these were fine – you’re expected to make some pretty ridiculous blunders, especially the first few works. For example, our first night buying tapas, the waiter asked if I wanted water with or without carbonation (sin o con gas). I misheard him and said “yeah a glass of water, that’s great.” A friend promptly translated and corrected me but it was embarrassing. Unfortunately, I continued to do stupid stuff like this even up until my very last day. I was trying to catch a taxi on a less populate street. I saw one and waved him down, but then realized he wasn’t actually technically working, he was heading home. He was a super sweet guy though and drove me where I needed to go anyways.
Despite the snarkiness of this post though, Spain was an absolutely amazing experience and I’m so blessed and grateful for the experiences I have had. The pros outweigh what little cons there were by a long shot so please, please, please consider looking into the IES Granada program. The staff there are absolutely wonderful, the city is gorgeous, and I can’t even imagine a better study abroad program.