Today is Thursday September 15th. It’s been almost two weeks now since my feet touched the soil of a different country for the first time in my life. It’s currently 7:33pm, and I’m lying in my bed in my Spanish homestay with no intentions of leaving any time soon. I can’t help but be reminded how we were told on the first day of orientation that this is exactly the type of behavior we shouldn’t be doing and wonder if I’m wasting my time staying inside when there’s a world of things to do and people to meet right out my front door.
Lately, I’ve been trying to give myself a break because I’ve felt tired. It isn’t the same kind of tired that I felt the first day I arrived in Spain after missing out on thirty-two hours of sleep, and it isn't the same kind of tired I experienced right after our program’s 10 mile hike around the mountains and beaches of Cabo de Gata. It’s the kind of tired, I believe, that comes with being an outsider in a new place.
Everyday, amongst the beauty and excitement all around Granada, I have experienced a kind of sensory overload. With every conversation I have, I must use my fullest attention to catch every word. There’s an ongoing translation happening in my head, and anytime I have to speak I suddenly forget anything I know about Spanish and feel like a complete fool as I stutter out a response. Add to that the pressures of making friends, finding my way around winding streets, and being constantly surrounded by other people, for an introvert like myself, it’s no surprise that I currently feel exhausted. While I’ve had so many amazing experiences being abroad thus far, I also haven’t had enough time to just be.
In Granada, there’s a phrase called “no pasa nada”. Per day I hear it at least twenty times- in class, at home, and on the streets. The literal translation is “nothing happens”, but it’s used instead as a way to tell someone “no worries”. So just like my host mom says anytime I can’t open the door to my home stay or misplace my keys, or how my Program Director told me when I accidently siesta’d through our first meeting (Sorry again, Javier), I’m trying to constantly tell myself “no pasada nada” anytime I worry about missing out on something or experience any other minor inconvenience.
Tonight, while my friends and classmates play soccer and go out to eat together, I’m reminding myself that it’s okay to be alone sometimes. I’m reminding myself that it’s only been two weeks of four months, and that there is still plenty of time to explore and meet new people, and that while it is important to try new things and acclimate to the different lifestyle of this country, taking care of myself first, is the most important thing of all.
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Nicole Von Wilczur
My name is Nicole von Wilczur, from Phoenix, Arizona. I'm a rising college junior attending Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. When I'm not studying, I enjoy fighting for social justice, being outdoors, photography, and learning to recite the lyrics to 90's and early 2000's rap songs. I've never traveled outside of the US, so I am very excited for the opportunity to be studying abroad in Granada, Spain, and sharing my experiences with you!