“Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten.”
This brilliant quote that I learned while watching Disney Channel’s Lilo and Stitch series has been something that has stuck with me for many years and has been very evident throughout my time here in Spain. The direct translation of the Hawaiian word “Ohana” actually is “casa” or “home.” Not to be cliché, but home truly is where the heart is.
My heart is in both America and Spain! After being in Spain for well over a month I’ve experienced and learned that many Spanish families eat lunch together every day after school or after work at around 2 o’clock, they travel to the mall together, they give many hugs and kisses throughout the day, the parents are very involved in the child’s school life and help wherever they can in studying with them, families watch many movies together on the weekends, and they also walk around the city and do fun learning activities together. By far, my favorite family togetherness example is if a child is sick and needs to go to the doctor, the whole family goes and supports the child, even the grandparents.
Now, I am not saying back in America these situations aren’t true or the same because I come from an awesome family that does many special things together; however, some things we definitely don’t do in America is have at least one meal a day together. Sometimes, it could even be a week or a month where my family of five sits together at the table. With our busy schedules for school, work, and extracurricular activities, it is difficult to find time to sit and enjoy each other’s company for 30-45 minutes straight without any interruptions. Which truly is sad and I wish we could slow down to savor the little moments of family time that actually mean the most.
Because of the daily schedule here, I am able to sit and eat with my family for both lunch and dinner. Everyone comes home for lunch at 2 p.m. and we eat by 2:30, and we all eat dinner at about 8:30 p.m.-9 p.m. every night. Meals are more than just eating food, it is a time where we share experiences from school, work, or life. If I could, I would definitely change America’s schedule to the Spanish schedule; more relaxed and laid back.
Last holiday weekend, I traveled with my family to the autonomous community of Galicia, Spain. There we visited Finisterre, Santiago de Compostela, and A Coruña. The rock-bound peninsula of Finisterre was an interesting site to see. During Roman times, Finisterre was said to be the “End of the Known World.” For many pilgrims and for people today, Cape Finisterre was and is their final destination for Camino de Santiago, or the way to the apostle St. James.
My family kind of did the Camino de Santiago, but we did it slightly backwards and we went by car instead of by foot! Santiago de Compostela is the capital of Galicia and it is also the burial site of St. James in the Cathedral de Santiago. This city is known as the culmination of the Camino de Santiago voyage. We also visited A Coruña, which is not apart of the Camino de Compostela. While in A Coruña, we went to a science museum, ate very tasty Tapas, and saw the Torre de Hercules. Many more memories were made and lots of history was learned, but it could take days to discuss!
My family here in Spain has seriously made me feel like I am one of their own (besides the fact I am not fluent in Spanish). They are so compassionate, loving, and include me in everything. It is so interesting to go from an American family of five, where I am the middle child in between two brothers to being a big sister to my two little Spanish sisters. From brushing our teeth and dancing in the bathroom together at night, to playing “Veo, Veo” in the car, singing every American Pop song one can think of, and brushing my youngest sister’s hair before bed. It’s hard to believe that I will be leaving them in a little over a month, but I am going back home to my real family that also is so compassionate and loving.
Aside from family bonding moments and things that I have learned about family cultures and traditions here in Spain, my teaching internship is going so well. All my classes are wonderful and it is so interesting to watch native Spanish speakers learn English because usually I am the native English speaker trying to learn Spanish. By far, my favorite class is with a beginner group of Spanish women that meet with me every Friday. It is such a great feeling to take charge and teach the class basic lessons, whether it be about the weather, vocabulary of the human body, or making them say outrageous numbers past one million. Not only am I learning a lot about myself from this, but I am truly finding that teaching people is such a rewarding feeling and I can’t wait for this to be my future profession.