Hi everyone! Today I’m very excited to be co-hosting the Thursday Fashion Files with Carrie from Curly Crafty Mom and Jill from Doused in Pink. I have been following their blogs for at least a year now and have linked up with them countless times. As I have transitioned from just blogging about to fashion to blogging fashion and travel, the times I can link up are less frequent. But I, of course, am always excited to when I can!
So for this post, I thought I’d do a little reflection on how I’m doing. I thought it would be fun to mix some photos in from the different shoots and outfits I’ve worn over the past five months.
5 months ago I packed my bags
The date that I arrived in Granada, Spain was September 23rd. It seems like yesterday and forever ago. I can now say I’ve done something completely new: spent more than a month in a foreign country. Before coming to Spain, I’m not really sure what I envisioned my life here to be. I was coming here to teach English and had known several people who taught English through the same program. However they were in different regions than me. In the end, I knew no one who had lived in Granada before. I just knew it was a city people raved about. And after living here for five months, I can see why. If you’re planning a trip to Spain, you have to add Granada to your itinerary.
Before I came, I anticipated the Spanish being hard and the travel being easy. And weirdly enough, it has been the exact opposite. Oh and I thought it would be hard to find enough private English lessons to teach for extra money. I ended up filling up my schedule within a week and even had to turn someone away because our schedules didn’t coordinate. One of my friends who taught here before had told me “I don’t think you realize how much in demand you will be as a native English speaker.” And he was so right.
I guess I already had my initial language shock
I was anticipating a lot more frustration with Spanish than I’ve had. Like I was envisioning a moment where I’d just feel so very overwhelmed. I remember sitting in my private hostel room my first morning in country flipping through the TV channels and thinking “this is my life now.” Then I checked out and was able to maintain a conversation with the front desk employee. “Hmmm … must have been a fluke,” I remember thinking. Then I went through the next few weeks being able to carry on conversations with everyone I met.
In short the reason this happened is because I spent the last year working a bilingual job in the United States. I spent 40 hours a week for the last year speaking Spanish every day with my clients from Latin America. What the job forced me to do, more than anything, was find a way to express myself. Most of the time these clients spoke little English. So if I couldn’t say it exactly, I had to find a way. And I also learned some tricks and tools to get me out of awkward impasses. So moving to Spain and speaking Spanish felt like taking a gondola halfway up the mountain and getting off to hike the rest of the way up. Did I have a leg up? Yes. Do I still struggle? Oh of course! It’s my second language, after all.
And then traveling. As we all know, traveling takes money. Basically, I just don’t have the money to be gone every weekend. I have checked off less countries than I would have liked but when I start to get down, I remind myself how lucky I am to have seen what I have seen. I am lucky to have this experience. And at the end of this year, I will have seen a good number of new places. And lastly, I feel like this experience is both living in another country and traveling. If I’m gone every weekend, how can I really get to know people in my city?
You just feel really different a lot
I of course anticipated this a bit. However being the outsider just weighs on you way more than you think. While I can express myself in Spanish, I still feel like a language barrier exists a lot of times. I chose to live with Spanish roommates to practice my Spanish. And while they are all nothing but nice people, I sometimes just feel out of the loop. They all come from the same culture and therefore can just relate to one another easier. It makes sense and it’s just the same with my American friends I’ve made over here. When you share a common language and culture, you just get one another quicker.
Or people will just make assumptions about you. Or like in a group setting, I might not talk as much because it’s my second language and I get labeled as cold. Also, American culture is just less touchy than Spain. So I’m not necessarily the one to initiate a hug with a stranger. But I welcome this. And then there’s the just not being able to explain exactly how you feel different … but you just do. In the end, you’re just the outsider and it’s both cool and lonely at times. One thing is for sure: this experience will forever change how I treat foreigners in my own country. And I urge you all to do the same with any foreigners you may interact with. You might have to flow down your talking speed or explain something you thought was common knowledge. Keep in mind that they’re trying their best.
And then you meet people who just don’t get it
On one hand, how can they entirely if all they have ever known is Spain? But I feel like I just run into this and it can frustrate me. This weekend for example, I was talking to the boyfriend of a friend’s coworker. A lot of shops in Spain are owned by the Chinese and he’s like “oh they don’t want to learn Spanish. Their Spanish is so bad.” And I’m just thinking “okay, do you even know any Chinese people? And how can you make that blanket assumption about all of them? And also, languages are hard! Do you speak a second one?” Or like I was on a date with a guy several weeks ago speaking Spanish the whole time. I have a bad habit of saying “well ..” and then speaking Spanish. It’s habit from English. And he gave me crap about that. I’m just again like “dude, you speak 1 language.”
Just overall, I will meet people who just do not understand. Some try to but a lot don’t. It can be frustrating for sure. I just try to think of how many people act the very same way back home. A lot, I’m sure.
I’ve gotten used to not tipping
Waiters are paid a decent wage here and no one tips. This will be hard to get used to again back in the United States.
People pee on the streets
Overall, the people are the best
So I will say that Spanish people are easy to talk to and get to know. They are incredibly direct. They do not beat around the bush. They think and act in the moment, and seem to have less of a regard for others in public than we do in the U.S. They also brush everything off and do not hold grudges to save their lives.
I’m just glad to be here
I am just so glad I decided to do this. This will change me probably in more ways than I know right now. I get to travel and see new things all the time. It is truly amazing.
And now the link up …
Welcome to Thursday Fashion Files!
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