To take a multi-faceted experience composed of people, emotions, food, and smells, to name a few facets, is a challenge that writers have been attempting to do well for centuries. While I am no author nor an experienced blogger, I will try my very best to welcome you into my experience of life here in the city of Valladolid, Spain.
While my time here is short, only a month long due to May terms and summer employment (and also the fact that I absolutely love summers with my family in western New York), I am doing my very best to make the most of each day that I have here.
Every morning, I enjoy a breakfast of freshly squeezed orange juice that I have to squeeze by hand followed by a cup of coffee, or as we Americans know it, espresso. My host parents like to joke about how watered down or weak American coffee is compared to real Spanish coffee… and they are not wrong! And yes, I should probably mention that I am staying with a wonderful host family for the month of June, and this is the absolute best set up I could hope for during an experience abroad.
I have been given a family to love on me and care for me while I am here in Spain which makes it a little more bearable to be away from my own family. I know my own parents also find it comforting to know that I am being well cared for. My host family has been patient and kind with the language barrier, as they only speak Spanish and my Spanish grammar is far from perfect and my pool of vocabulary is small. Nevertheless, they invite me into their Spanish culture as we share two meals a day together. In this context, I get to taste delicious and homemade Spanish cuisine and I get table talk (in Spanish) and fellowship with my family, which I believe is the best teacher for learning and exchanging culture.
I have learned to say sí (yes) to every experience they can offer me and my two host sisters love to make sure of this! Whether this means they convince me to eat a type of sausage that they know I would be scared of if the name were to be translated into English, or going for a stroll through the city where we may or may not find ourselves in yet another ice cream shop… They love to make sure that I get to experience Valladolid like a local and I am so thankful for my wonderful tour guides!
I think one of the biggest factors that attracted me to this internship experience is the fact that I get to feel like a local. Although I have only been here for about two weeks now, I love navigating my way through the city with confidence without my eyes glued to my iPhone maps. I love when I can successfully order a meal in Spanish and have the waiter convinced that I am fluent (while I most certainly am not). These are just a few insights into life abroad as I am learning more about the culture and about the people that compose it.
Additionally, this experience is not solely about being a tourist or living in someone else’s home. While these are some of the wonderful perks of the experience here, I also have the exciting opportunity to help teach at the United Cultures Language School. Here, small children to adults work on learning English in a fun and engaging environment. I absolutely love this job and so appreciate how it has confirmed my decision to pursue Childhood and Special Education as my majors in college and for my future teaching career. In just two weeks, I have had opportunities to co-teach classes, to work one on one with students, to play games, and to develop creative art projects with the local children. Furthermore, my co-workers really add a positive light to this experience as well, as they have worked to make me feel welcomed and a valuable part of the team.
As you can tell from my glowing review, I am absolutely loving my time here in Valladolid and there is so much more I wish I had the time to share with you!
But alas, that is all for now.