Sí se puede!
There comes a time when we are forced to go out of our bubble of comfort. Traveling to a foreign country is one of those moments. I am not saying that it has not been an amazing 24 hours but rather overwhelming, much more so than just the culture shock of the airport. When you travel as a student overseas, it is almost like leaving your parents home for the first time. The difference is when you leave home it is only a call away when something goes wrong or you always have friends close by that a phone call away. Not that studying in another country is some rite of passage, but it should be. It lets you know very quickly some of your strengths and weaknesses.
If you go alone, I think you become one of four types of people; 1.You curiously scan the plane and airport for anyone who looks like they could also be a "student" or any type of conversation that sounds like something you read in a brochure before you got to your destination, 2.You wait until school and try to make friends then, 3.You stay under the care of your host family and do everything they do, not the one I suggest because it is like having a mother and father but they did not give birth to you and most likely will not speak you native language and 4.You go balls to the wall and venture out into the city and try to meet people on your own.
If you ask me I would like to say I am number 4, however what I am learning after one day here is that I am a good mix of 1 and 2. I got a little lucky though because there was another number 1 one my plane and they found me. Once the first person is met the others just seem to fall into your circle, and if you have a small group you circle will most likely be everyone, but there will still be the ones that want to think for themselves but might not speak up. My advice to those people are, if you have something to say, don't be afraid to say it. These people are here for the same purpose you are and will therefore be open to anything because it is all new. Also, don't feel obligated to stay with a large group; it is more than all right to break off into small groups if different people want to do different things.
Then there is the language barrier. We all think speaking Spanish is easy. Sure we all can recite the words to "Living La Vida Loca" or a Daddy Yankee song, but that is not going to do you a bit of good walking on the streets of a city where few people speak your language and you don't know where you are going. Study up on the language of the place you are going to visit, and by study up I don't mean the fact you got a "C" in high school years ago when you were a junior. If you know a little bit of the language don't be afraid to use it. People can figure out what you mean a lot of times with the use of a few choice words. Also, invest in a dictionary and a travel guide. Sure it doesn't seem like the cool thing to do, but you know what, when everyone is walking the streets for three hours or more trying to find there way home, you know who the coolest person is going to be??? That person who knows how the hell to get home!!!!
The third and most challenging thing for me is the food. Those of you that know me, and if you are reading this then you are a friend of mine or just stumbled across my blog by luck. I am not an adventurous person when it comes to food. Anthony Bordain your job is safe. Everyone makes fun of me because this is how it goes: Italian restaurant-pastas or pizza, Mexican-Quesadias but only if they have breast meat, not dark meat, American-burger or chicken depending how it's made and Trendy/specialty restaurants-Well, I will be busy that night washing my hair.
Here's the problem with that, host families are just that, your family. In many cultures you will offend the woman of the house if you don't try their cooking. If there is something you just will not eat, be sure and tell them right away. Take it from someone who loves to cook and considers himself or herself a pretty good cook. If you don't even give it a try the chef gets a little hurt no matter how well you know them. I never thought I would go out of my comfort zone on this subject, however last night my host mother made steamed meatballs in chicken broth with potatoes all in a pressure cooker. You know what I was thinking I was just going to go to my room and get out of trying it. However I walked out and there was a forth place set for me at the table. I reluctantly sat down and took a small bite. Two plates later I was full and happy I tried something different. I also learned another positive about this. If you are willing to try something for someone, then they will try something for you.
I wanted this to be a comedic reference to what I am doing in Spain, but in a matter of 24 hours it became a journal of self-awareness. Tomorrow the comedy will return. Its time for tapas and cerveza!!!!!