I’ve been in Bilbao, Spain, for about a month now. That makes a month of new people, new experiences, new thoughts, and new struggles.
I don’t know that there is anything more strange than arriving to a country where your own language is not spoken, and realizing that you will be living in that language barrier for 3+ months. I can’t really describe it-though I can say it is neither a great feeling nor a horrible feeling, just…a feeling.
Regardless of this “feeling” you move into a home or apartment and you realize both, excited and terrified, that you’re here and that it’s starting. You start to make friends with the people you see everyday in your classes, and you think in that first week that everything is beautiful and life is good! And, well, it is!
Until you realize for the first time that you only met these people a week ago, and your whole life is 2,000 miles away.
This is when changes start to seem burdening. How do I let go of what I know, and try to see the world the way this new culture does… And goodness that’s tough at first. So you buy a baguette and go search for free wifi. Then you sit outside in that wifi zone and wait for your friends back home to wake up with a little tear in your eye (7 hour time differences bite). And that’s how the first weeks go!
But! Change is good. They all tell us that! So you get up off that wifi hotspot curb and you march to a cafe and you act like a Spaniard. All for the sake of change!
That moment is when things pick up. When you can PUT DOWN your phone for a few hours and be in Spain. Let go of the ones you love so much for a few minutes to smell the fresh tortilla de patatas or the newly poured tinto, to see the old man in his boina smoke his new cigar while his wife gives him a side glare. Some change is good, friends! We just have to be willing to pay the price and seek that change.
I think after those first weeks the biggest thing that starts to seep in is how little you know of the world. You go into this experience as a tough American, wise, wealthy, on top of the world, and once you get there you remember no one cares. Your professors are still smarter than you, the native people don’t necessarily want you interrupting their friend groups, and your mom isn’t right there to FaceTime you every time you get down.
That big, proud, southern apparatus is gone.
But! Change is good.
So you listen to your professors and begin to realize how much growing up you have to do. You start reading and studying because that’s what a university student pays thousands of dollars a year to do. You start to resent the people who came here just for the sake of being disrespectful in another culture.
You start to realize that without mom there every hour you’re awake, you have to do some growing up on your own.
So you start to.
That’s the stage that hits about a month or so in. You have to suck it up, and get ready to get out of bed.
Some change is good.
Spain change is good.