Communication differences in both my host country and in the workplace have not been as severe as they were made out to be. I was warned that Spaniards would be vague and indirect, especially with instructions, and also very curious about my personal life. I have not experienced either kind of communication at the scale I was warned. I think the vaguest type of communication I have received has been more due to the language barrier rather than cultural difference. My boss occasionally must rephrase requests if I don’t understand some key words, which ends up changing the meaning a bit. However, she never overuses figurative language or description when we’re talking about work problems, or personal ones at that. With more practice in the language, these difficulties have gotten easier and these past few weeks, I have had almost no confusion with requests or conversations at work. The high-context style of communication has also not been present in my home. My host mom and I have conversations about our lives, our days, and other topics over dinner, but I have never been struggling to understand context or general themes due to her descriptive tendencies. Overall, I think the American and Spanish descriptive context differences are not very difficult to grow accustomed to.
Other things other things…. my job responsibilities have changed a bit in the past week. I am rarely just shadowing sessions anymore, but more often running them alone with certain kids, and during sessions that my boss takes care of, I have been doing some research for a talk she is giving next month. This is probably my favorite shift I have experienced at my placement so far because it is more oriented towards what I want to do professionally. My boss and I were actually talking about this yesterday – she asked me how I’m feeling with the work and whether I think it’s difficult. I responded with, of course it’s difficult, but how else would I learn? We were discussing the emotional toll that one on one patient care causes and her own experience with coping with these stressors. But then she asked how I was feeling about the research she has been having me do and she noted that when I was talking about it, I seemed really excited, more excited than I usually am. Having this different responsibility has been validating what I want to do in the long run. I knew going into this position that I was not going to be a therapist as my career, but having a more research, academic set of responsibilities has reinforced my goals of going into academia. Even though the research is taking me about 5 times longer than it would have if the articles were in English, I am really enjoying this new role.
Outside of work, I am getting a little sad, I can’t believe we only have 2 weeks left! I’m really going to miss the routine that I have set up for myself and I can’t lie, returning from Madrid to Pittsburgh in a view/architectural sense is going to be a little disappointing. Although I complain about returning from work late, I am definitely going to miss walking through the Parque de Oeste during the sunset every day. By this point, I have checked everything off my tourist attraction list, and I have been exploring more sights more off the beaten path. My friends and I visited the natural sciences museum last weekend and we have been trying out new municipal pools whenever we can. Trying to make the best of it while we’re still here! This week, my friends and I have plans to do something almost every night and we have some good travel plans laid out for the weekend. For sure I am not going to miss this heat though, oh my gosh it is oppressive.