Now that the first two weeks of this trip are in the books, its safe to say that I am now, more so than ever before in my life, acclimated to a culture other than that of US. I have visited countries outside the US before, but never to this extent, or in this much depth. The routine and language of the Valencian culture has been something I have embraced fully and have made an outstanding effort towards adopting. It has been a refreshing experience so far and I plan on continuing to push myself over these next few weeks to really exploit this opportunity. A big challenge for me, outside of learning the language, has been learning to do the bulk of my eating around midday. My routine in the US was a sizable breakfast, small lunch, and a large dinner. I still haven’t completely gotten used to this new eating schedule here, but I have made significant strides and am getting close to being fully adjusted. Oh. And while we are on the topic of food, I might add, the dishes that I have eaten here are absolutely delicious! There is a new place in my heart for Fideua and Paella.
As for the language aspect, over this past week, I have made the decision to rejoin the optional language course that was so kindly offered to us for free by the University of Valencia. At first, since I did not necessarily “need” the credits – why I placed need in the quotations will become clear in just a moment – I felt that the course was too much of a commitment and was taking too much time taken away from the experience in Valencia. From this abroad trip, I only technically need 6 of the 9 credits being offered (3 for each course) so where the language course was the most time consuming and the only “optional” course, I made the rash decision to drop it and just make it an effort to learn as much Spanish as I could on my own time while having some more free time to enjoy this beautiful city… The choice seemed like a no brainer at the time, however, the decision weighed heavily on me. It did not take much time for me to reconsider my choice.
Upon meeting some great people in my internship program who do not speak much, if any, English, I had a sudden change of heart. Admittedly, I was already feeling a bit of regret in my decision to drop the course, but once I received this reality check, it really put things into perspective for me. I knew that learning enough of the language on my own time to be able to effectively communicate with these people in a 5-6 week time frame was an unrealistic feat. I knew that I had to act fast if I wished to rejoin, so I reached out to Prof. Tom a couple days later and informed him of my desire to rejoin the course. Fortunately, he, as well as the university’s language teacher, were both accepting of my wish to come back and I’m now back in. I am happy with my current position and am as motivated as ever to learn the language.
These last couple weeks have been a unique experience. I’m intrigued by what these coming weeks will hold.