I grew up near the oldest city in America, St. Augustine. There is a vibrant array of Spanish culture in St. Aug, which really pushed my interest in studying abroad to Barcelona, Spain. In addition, I had taken a handful of Spanish classes in Middle and High School, giving me a basic understanding in the language’s structure and rules. However, I am nowhere near fluent in Spanish… in fact, I hardly understand simple phrases because my classes were four years ago!!! I do remember how to change the endings of verbs and how to match feminine and masculine words, so regardless of my forgetfulness of vocabulary, I am hoping that after a few weeks, it’ll come back to me – just like riding a bike! The reason I chose to study abroad in Spain was because I live around a city of huge Spanish influence not to mention the fact that Spanish is so prominent in many states around the U.S.
Therefore, first on my packing list: English to Spanish dictionary! In addition, I have a small guide for tourists that I think will come in handy. Packing is certainly a challenge for me, as I am still in the process, but I think it is about necessity and importance. When I imagine myself in another country, I think to myself, “What will I miss?” I made more room for cute clothes and shoes by cutting out items such as a beach towel or my normal XL sized bottle of shampoo (I have very thick hair). I had to make room for converters and my Nixon camera for my photography class. Packing is tricky, but it’s all about personal preference. Shoes and clothes are important to me, so I made that a priority over hairsprays and even sweats which I can easily buy upon arrival.
I am staying with a host family. In Barcelona, most families do live in apartments. I currently do not know anything about my family, their name nor if they have children, but I am very excited to meet them in a few weeks! I hope by the end of my four months I will have a close, lifelong friendship with the parents (and kids if they have any). Although the language barrier will prove difficult at the beginning, a challenge is what I wanted, and communicating with a family that does not speak my native language is definitely a challenge! I think the key for success at a healthy and happy relationship with my family is to be kind, considerate, and clean.
Although I can’t help my arising feelings of overwhelming anxiety and nerves of living in a huge, foreign city for the next semester, my eagerness and excitement outweighs it all! The main stereotype of an American is that we are rude and always in a hurry. I think if I extend a helping hand to a stranger, keep an optimistic attitude, ask for directions or even ask simple questions about the cities history, take time for myself, and say “yes” to scary, unfamiliar activities, I can succeed abroad! Emerging myself in the Spanish culture is something I have dreamed about for a long time now, so ready or not, HERE I GO!