14 days, 336 hours, 20,160 minutes, and 1,209,600 seconds or something equivalent to that, that represents how much time I have been able to seize my days here in Spain. Within the few weeks that I have been here, I have explored my wonderful city, Valladolid, visited a small town all on a hill called Simancas, went to my first roller hockey game, went to two rugby matches, ate lots of tapas, visited Madrid, watched many romantic Disney Channel movies in Spanish with English subtitles, and have been welcomed into the most amazing Spanish family.
Since last year, I have been asked by so many different people what my future plans were for the upcoming year. I always said, “Oh, I am going to Spain in the fall for an internship, I am going to live with a host family, and hopefully I will learn more Spanish by being fully immersed into their culture.” It has finally occurred to me that talking about my future plans is no longer a dream, but it is reality, and the only way to fully live it up while I am here is by saying a simple two letter word, “Sí.” Never will I ever get this opportunity to do something like this again, so why not make the most of it now!?
Without my host family, I definitely wouldn’t have been able to go or do most of these wonderful things. Within my Spanish family, I have two wonderful parents, Pachi and Rosa, and two little sisters, Candela and Jimena. My Spanish parents are so friendly, compassionate and loving to not only myself, but to families and friends of Valladolid. They remind me so much of my biological parents at home. Having Pachi and Rosa around has definitely made transitioning from a typical American family to a Spanish family a lot easier. They don’t speak too much English, so it is great time for me to practice all those years I spent in Spanish classes; however, it is so different trying to speak with native speakers and not my classmates from school!
My sisters Candela and Jimena are a great asset to the family. The older sister, Candela is 10-years-old, speaks very good English, and loves American music and movies. Jimena is 7-years-old, speaks only a little English, and is hilarious. By the end of my first night here, we already warmed up to each other. When the door to my room is open, they come in and talk to me, when we get ready for bed every night we brush our teeth while dancing to music in the bathroom, and every Sunday we watch movies for hours.
Because of the language barrier, I find myself saying “Sí” a lot. So maybe I am not exactly seizing the day, maybe I am just confused. After all is said and done and then I actually realize what I am getting myself into, I don’t regret it a single bit. One of my favorites so far had to of been exploring this small town called Simancas. On a beautiful, sunny afternoon, my parents took me to a pueblo. There we visited an old cathedral and toured what is said to be one of the most important 15th century castles in Spain. My parents love to inform me on the history of these sites and they always are great at answering any of my questions. Although I may not pick up everything that they say because my Spanish vocabulary isn’t that extensive, I try my best to pick out the words I know and make something out of it. Below is a picture of me believing I was Queen for an hour!
Hands down, my second favorite event that I said “Sí” to was being exposed to the sport of rugby. Not once, but twice. My first time I went alone with my family. I had absolutely no idea of the rules, how the point system worked, and why the men weren’t wearing pads. I’ll admit, I might not have understood all the rules that were said to me in Spanish; but I really enjoyed everything that occurred. Unlike American sports, after the games people are able to run onto the field and meet with the players to congratulate them or take photos with them. My father Pachi used to play rugby, so we had an in with most of the players! The week after, my family took JCC classmate Gregg along with us for my second rugby match. Greg also had absolutely no idea what was going on, I tried to explain it, but honestly some things are better left unsaid. I will have to say that my second rugby match I did slowly understand it a little more and started chanting in Spanish with the wild fans in the stands!
Aside from all of my “Sí” responses, I also have just completed my first full week of classes at the International Immersion Institute. This program is where I am doing my teaching internship. It is a fantastic and an awesome way to learn Spanish culture and customs from the students or adults with them by speaking 100% English. I am often used as an example to pronounce certain words, teach random lessons, or play interactive vocabulary games. This internship reminds me a lot of some that I have completed in the past. I definitely know teaching is my calling!
My journey here in Spain has only begun, I have so much time left to adventure with my family or with friends! This experience is definitely making me be more spontaneous with my life and get me out of my comfort zone in this “new world” that I am in. I love everything about it here and can’t wait to share more memories I have made in future posts. Thanks for reading my first blog post here in Valladolid, Spain!!