Becoming Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable

There have been a lot of difficulties when it comes to assimilating to the Spanish culture. So far, the biggest issue for me has to be the food, both with eating times and with the food itself. For starters, the Spaniards have a different eating schedule than we do, it typically goes as follows: 8am-coffee and small breakfast (such as graham cracker cookies or a croissant), 11am-coffee and various small food items (such as chips and hummus, churros, frittata), 2pm-lunch, 6pm-tapas (basically some form of snacking), and finally at 10pm-dinner. It’s a lot more of snacking throughout the day instead of three meals, which has been difficult to adjust to. Normally, in the U.S., I don’t eat much of a breakfast because I’m not hungry when I first wake up, so I opt to eat small breakfast around 10am. I then eat a decent sized lunch around 1pm. I have some type of snack around 4pm and eat dinner around 7pm. I don’t like eating dinner so late here because it doesn’t give my body time to digest everything before going to sleep. I also haven’t been enjoying the food options very much. Overall, I’ve found that most of the food here is relatively bland when it comes to flavor and is a lot of meat and carbs. For example, a common snack food is a bocadillo, which is like a small sandwich. I ordered the ham option, and it was just that, a baguette with ham on it, no additional condiments or flavoring. It didn’t taste bad, but it was just very weak in terms of flavor. Even at home with my host family the meals tend to be fairly flavorless. A common dish they like to make is lentils, and that is the entirety of the dish. The only type of additional flavor that is added into the huge pot of lentils is a singular clove of garlic. I have also noticed a lack of vegetables as an option for food. I almost never see salads as a choice on menus or a side serving of vegetables. As I said earlier, the food is pretty much just some form of carbs. I am still continuing to branch out and try more food options, but everything that has been hyped-up to me has been a bit of a disappointment. I also just miss food I am comfortable with, like a bowl of pasta or a chicken sandwich. I also miss being able to cook my own meals, as that is one of the rules of the homestay. It’s difficult when the food I ate for pretty much every meal isn’t determined by me. There have been instances in which I didn’t like the food very much, so I didn’t have anything to eat. I think I would be more comfortable if I could cook every once in a while, but this trip isn’t about being comfortable. I have talked to my friends and another EUSA internship about how they’re feeling right now at, roughly, the midpoint and it seems like everything comes down to feeling comfortable/uncomfortable. There are some aspects of the US that I miss not necessarily because I prefer it more than Spain, but because I am comfortable with it. It is difficult living every single day in a state of un-comfortability, but there isn’t anything I can do about it. I am going to try to find some ways to make myself a bit more comfortable here, so I don’t feel as stressed, such as having a more rigid routine, eating food that I am used to, talking more with my family on the phone, etc. Recently, one of my friends has been eating a lot of acai bowls around the city, so I may try to do something similar because eating something that I also eat in the US and that has a lot of fruit I think will be nice. There are some snacks that I’ve tried that I’ve really enjoyed, such as these cookie sandwich like thing. There super common and normally have chocolate in the center, but I prefer strawberry. The fruit here is also, I feel like, sweeter. Another pro is that food here is a lot cheaper. When I go to the grocery store to grab some snacks it normally only ends up being about 10 Euros, when getting the same/similar items in the US would cost me closet to $20. I’m going to keep branching out with the food and maybe doing some research on the best restaurants/food here.

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