It is hard to believe that we are coming up on week 4, the halfway point of the program! While I feel like I have been living in Spain for months, time also seems to be flying by. With so many things already completed and so many new adventures to come, I would say without a doubt that signing up for this program was one of the best decisions I have ever made (and possibly will ever make)! With that being said, I have some fun updates to share with you all. Firstly, I attended my first language intercambio! I have to admit, I almost didn’t go because I was a little tired after work and was also nervous that it would be awkward since I was going by myself. However, I mustered up the courage and ended up having a blast! I am attending a different one this week and bringing my hometown friend with me and I can’t wait. Also, on Thursday, my whole office went out for dinner to celebrate because two of my co-workers are getting married this week. This was the first time I was really able to talk with my co-workers in a more personal way and see how they all act outside of the office. The highlight of that night, however, was my director informing me that she told the CEOs that they should keep me on the team! I have so much love for this team and the work we do, so hearing this was possibly the peak of my trip. I really hope they will take her advice and let me work here again either next summer or possibly even full-time after graduation! With all of that being said, I think it is clear to see that I am adjusting quite nicely to the lifestyle of Spain.
If I am being honest, there are not a lot of parts of Spanish culture that have been difficult for me to adjust to. For example, I typically eat a smaller breakfast, bigger lunch, and then smaller dinner once again. Growing up, my family would typically eat dinner around 8pm because my brothers and I would have so many activities after school, we couldn’t all eat together until 8pm. Also, all my friends back at home know that I am notorious for being late and I mean LATE late. So, when meetings in my office get pushed back by thirty minutes or a few hours, or when events (for example, a free dance class I attended) actually start 30 minutes after the time posted, I am un-bothered because I am now on time. If people comment on my appearance (which thankfully has not happened yet) I will most likely be used to it because that is what my grandparents do because it is very European and they are from Ireland. And while siestas are not as popular in larger cities in Spain (aka Madrid) anymore, if they did occur, I would actually appreciate it because at Pitt I schedule my classes so I can nap around 3pm for at most an hour.
However, there were some aspects of the culture I was surprised by, but quickly learned to appreciate and love. Firstly, people here dress a lot nicer than people in America. For example, people only wear athletic clothes if they are going to the gym or if they are children. From what I have seen, people wear jeans or jean shorts, nicer tops, dresses, and skirts. However, I expected this before starting the program because when I had visited Spain before, I recognized this aspect of the culture. Although, I would argue that the culture might be shifting a little bit to becoming more relaxed. I have seen teenagers wear similar styles to those in the U.S. and to be honest, a lot of people I have seen (while not wearing athletic clothes) are not that dressed up when out and about. Hence, in a few years, if people in Spain started to wear athletic clothing to places outside the gym, I would not be surprised. But for now, I appreciate that everyone does dress up a little bit because it has encouraged me to try out new outfits. Furthermore, when I first went into a pharmacy for allergy medicine, I was very confused as to why there was none on the shelfs and only hair care products, skin care products, and makeup … “where was all the over-the-counter medicine?” I thought to myself. The next time I went, however, I decided to walk up to the counter and ask if they had allergy medicine. I soon realized that all over-the-counter medications are BEHIND the counter in Spain. I don’t know why this is, but I was just happy to walk out with what I needed. Lastly, the main difference that was indeed challenging for me to adjust to was that people eat lunch around 2 or 3pm. During high school, my classmates and I would eat lunch at 11:50 and at Pitt I would eat lunch at 12:15pm. I am the type of person that needs food every three hours, so waiting to eat lunch at 2pm with all my coworkers after eating breakfast at 8am has been a huge adjustment. However, I would rather be a little hungry for an hour or two and eat with all my friendly coworkers than eat by myself at 12pm. Those are the main differences in Spain that I have experienced, but it would not surprise me if I came across even more in the next few weeks.