I cried in the airport; full on tears in the line to go through security. As the image of the parents, got farther away, I finally fully realized why I wanted to come abroad and more importantly, why I wanted this particular experience in Alicante, Spain. GW is a fast-pace, competitive environment, where by the time you finish your first semester freshman year, you feel as though you need to have your 12-step plan on how you are going to become the next president of the United States. I always wanted to go to Spain to practice my Spanish but I knew that if I spent 4 months in a major city, I would not get the traditional Spanish feeling I’d been longing before. But leaving behind the wonderful friendships and experiences I had this summer, proved to be more difficult than I imagined.
As I traveled from New York City to Madrid and then from Madrid to Alicante, so many thoughts were reeling though my head. What would the other Americans be like in my program? What would it be like taking a class directly in a Spanish University? Where would I travel? What would the town look like? And now, a week later I have so many answers while still having so many unknowns. I guess that’s the joy of la adventura abroad.
One of the answers have been able to answer is where I am living. I am staying in a homestay and my “mama’s” name is Dominga. She is about 4’11, 76 years old and a complete sass-master. She doesn’t speak any English but that doesn’t mean we haven’t learned to understand each other in the past week. We have discussed everything from Barack Obama and gay marriage to how to get me a Spanish boyfriend and how to salsa dance.
The schedule here in Spain is one that would confuse any American. The morning is average; wake up, small breakfast and then off to work, school, whatever you have to do. Then things get mas extrano; lunch or as they like to call it here “la comida”, last 2-3 hours and with me and mi mama, we talk about our day and then about how little I eat. Granted, I am a petite girl with a petite appetite but I don’t think most young girls can eat their own personal lasagna (like the big pan), salad, a mini baguette and then dessert. So after convincing her that I am really full, I sleep and head to the beach. This has so far been my favorite time of the day; exploring Alicante and getting to know the other students in my group. Dinner isn’t until around 9pm, and is much lighter than lunch but still usually includes salad, an omelette and my own personal flan. Dominga’s goal is to make me a gordita, or a fat little girl, a term of endearment here. The one thing I can’t get used to; shoes in the house. Their floors are colder and many of the older people think you will get sick from not having something on your feet. But I feel like I am tracking dirt through the house.
So maybe by the time I get home I’ll be a full on gordita who will where her slippers everywhere. But for now, I’m just enjoying the view of my little town by the beach.