It’s been 17 days since I arrived in a bus to Granada, my body full of sleep and my mind full of the chatter of strangers. The world looked blue out of the tinted windows as I watched hill after hill go by, white houses like snowflakes scattering the countryside. Andalucia is beautiful. History here is so tangible and common – most of those snowflake houses are now in ruins, a fragment of the family that used to live there. These places in the US would be hunted out, given a groundskeeper, and to visit you’d have to brave through no-trespassing signs.
So, yes, for those of you who’ve read my last post, I’m not over it.
As enchanting as the country side is, I am here to be a student. Studying at Universidad de Granada is (and there’s no other way to put it) freaking cool. El centro de lenguas modernas is based in a beautiful, all white building, with a courtyard in the middle and big trees that grow up the pillars. There are free pencils in case you can’t find your own. The books cost never more than 25 euros.
The teachers are a lot calmer here. There is more flexibility to talk about other things – the ultimate goal is to improve Spanish, and the teachers get that. It’s so nice to be in my Culture of Spain/Flamenco class and have long conversations about the gitano population in Granada specifically, and fun things to do in the Sacromonte neighborhood. The professors also talk wonderfully slowly so that I can keep along with my clunky Spanish.
However, it isn’t all perfect – the Spainard schedule is something that is so hard for me to get used to. I pride myself on being annoyingly punctual and everyone in Spain is always. Late. I have a 25 minute walk to classes, and at 8:00 in the morning my brain is in overdrive to get me to where I need to be on time – I can tie my shoes in under 5 seconds – and I speed walk up hills, through crowds, across streets, down alleyways, past croissant and cafe for 1 euro shops, through plazas, down another alleyway and finally through the doors of el centro – just on time, a minute left to get to class. And so I do – and the professor doesn’t get there for another 5 minutes.
This might seem like a silly thing to be struggling with – those are 5 minutes more I could sleep, right? I could walk slower? I could buy breakfast along the way? I could chill out????? I understand common sense. I understand that these are all perfectly normal reactions to having professors that are consistently late and attendance that doesn’t start until 15 minutes into class time. I get it, I do, but, in the words of every 16 year old from 2010-2017, I just can’t.
Growth and adaptation to Spain, I guess, will be measured in how late I start to arrive to classes.
As you can probably tell, I am a functioning adult ready to thrive in society (haha). So something else that has been a huge struggle for me is food. I have lived on my own for 2 years, and cooked all my own meals. I’ve gotten proud of my cooking and even adopted the title “All Right at it”, so I know what my body likes and needs to feel good and healthy.
Here, someone else cooks all my meals.
And I’m grateful! It’s nice to be able to just waste time until I get called to eat something someone else put effort into. It’s really nice not having to do the dishes. But everything here is salty. Incredibly salty. As in even the salad is salty. And there is very little of said salad to begin with – I have gone from a diet of 70% vegetables to a diet that’s 80% bread. It has been incredibly, incredibly difficult for me – I’ve resulted to sneaking arugula on my dinner when my host mom isn’t eating with me, to picking up cucumbers at a fruteria and eating it whole, to keeping a stash of munchable greens under my bed.
However, I do have to say, my senora sometimes gives us these delicious, tiny empanadas filled with what must be a tuna/tomato sauce. It is the most delicious thing I have ever eaten in my life abd makes all the salt worth it.
So, here’s my advice for anyone considering living in Spain with a host family – open your mind. There is no amount of research that can prepare you like how opening your mind can. Communicate. Don’t hide vegetables like I do. Find easy, clever ways to get the food and the things you need (like how arugula can go on literally anything). Make things easy for both of you!