My name is Sarah Gourley. I’m currently a senior at MSU studying Spanish Education with a minor in General Business. I’m living and studying in Granada, Spain for 3 months!! Even though I’ve been studying for 2 months already, I decided I would start blogging on the MSU webpage. I hope you enjoy my posts! They’re pretty lengthy, but I try to cover lots of things in each post!
When I was preparing to study away, all the study away directors kept telling us, “It’s not weird, it’s just different”. This statement is so true. To Americans, things here are very different. The times they eat, how much they eat, the time they get up and go to bed, how late they stay out at the discotecas (clubs), the amount of water they use (or more like don’t use) and many other things. It’s all so different, but that’s why I came here. I came here because culture shock and living in a different country are not bad things.. it’s an amazing opportunity for me to be able to experience and take all that Spain has to offer. And even though right now I miss the convenience of being able to hop in my car and go whenever I want, or being able to take long, hot showers, I am so glad I have the opportunity to be in Spain. Studying abroad is not for everyone. You have to be adventureous, willing to take risks, be the outcast, and willing to learn everything that happens in this new culture.
One of the main things I have had to get used to is walking to class. I have around a 35-45 minute walk to and from class everyday. This is NORMAL for Spaniards, especially in Granada. Granada is a very small city, and everyone walks everywhere. The first couple of days, when walking to class I got so lost. I had to ask so many people how to get to school and which roads I need to take to get home. I had no idea where I was going, and it definitely doesn’t help that I’m so directionally challenged that I can’t even get around Kansas City and I’ve lived there all my life! Granada is also a cash economy, meaning most places around here don’t accept debit and credit cards, this is also very different because I don’t like carrying cash on me.
So when I was walking to class (lost) the other day, this is what I saw. The mountains peeking out from behind the buildings.. it was about 8:45am, so the sun was still rising.. it was absolutely gorgeous.
Whenever I meet up with friends or my ISA group we meet at La Isabel la Catolica. My house is about a 30 minute walk to here, so I have to either leave really early or walk really fast haha! Usually I’m walking really fast to try to get there in time!
|La Isabel la Catolica
I wanted you all to see the inside of my house. We live in a big, apartment like building. There are 4 apartments on each floor. Whenever you walk into the buliding, they have lights that you can turn on, but they automatically turn off after like 3 minutes or so. The people are very careful about the amount of electicity and water they use here, so this way no one forgets to turn out the lights! In the actual apartments, there are real light switches that don’t turn off automatically haha.
This is my living room. As you can see it’s very tiny and packed full of furniture. It’s small, but nice. There are tile floors in the entire house. One of the things I wish I would have brought was slippers.. my feet get so cold! Most of the time I have to just wear shoes.. or 2 pairs of socks. On the balcony outside the sliding glass doors, there are tons of clothes hangers. They don’t use dryers for their clothes, since it’s always nice here they let all their clothes hang outside to dry. As a result, all the clothes that have been washed here are stiff because my host mom doesn’t have fabric softeners.
My host mom as a canary. I can’t remember it’s name, but he sings whenever it’s sunny out.. which is everyday. It’s really cute.
This is the kitchen, I’m only allowed to get bananas and water from the kitchen. And of course eat. But my host mom doesn’t want me in it any other time. This is HER area!
For breakfast, Encarna (my host mom) puts out 2 little muffins, a plantain (which is a small, sweet banana) and a crossiant type of thing with chocolate in the middle and warms up coffee for me. I usually eat the 2 muffins and the banana, drink the coffee, and take the crossiant to class with me for a snack. From what I understand from talking to my friends, this is a BIG breakfast. A lot of them get a couple crackers and a cup of coffee… haha I must have gotten lucky!!
Lunch is the main meal of the day. It is served around 2 or 2:30. Encarna usually makes soup or pasta, most of the time with potatoes and vegetables and sometimes meat. We always have bread with our meals, and a glass of water. I brought a small thing of Gates BBQ sauce as a gift for my host family, so yesterday for lunch Encarna made chicken and homemade french fries (all natural), and we had BBQ sauce with it. This was the first time we’ve had something with condiments.. Encarna never uses condiments.
Whenever I have to take a sack lunch with me for excursions and stuff, she makes me a cheese sandwich with no condiments, and a banana. My ISA director said that they eat lunch as their main meal that way they have time to work it off, NO WONDER no one is fat here!!! Also, all the little shops in Granada close down for siesta from 2pm-5pm. This way the workers can go home and eat lunch and take a nap. Siestas are the greatest thing in the world.
Dinner is a much smaller meal eaten at around 9:30 or 10, but Encarna has hosted Americans for a long time, so she knows we are hungry by 8 or 8:30, so I eat before Encarna and her mom. Dinner usually consisting of a “tortilla” (omlette type thing that she puts potatoes or melted cheese in), or a sandwich, bread, and yogurt with a glass of water.
There’s only room for 2 people at their kitchen table, so sometimes Encarna eats with me, and sometimes I eat and she hangs out and talks with me, then she will eat with her mom either before or after I do. I don’t talk to my host grandma very much because she’s very hard to understand, so I’m ok not eating with her.
Another thing I had to become accostume with is the electrical outlets. I have an adapter I have to use for my computer, my phone and my straightener. They are all dual voltage because the electricity is different in Spain than in the US. I have noticed that nothing stays charged for very long, except for my Spanish phone, so I’m constantly charging my computer and American phone. This is what the electrical outlets look like:
Haha.. one thing I still love to have: diet coke! Here it’s “coca-cola light”.. it’s the same thing as diet coke. Love it.
Looking out my window this is what I see.. I believe it’s a hospital, I know there’s 2 hospitals right next to our apartment, one is a real hospital, and the other is for students.. like KU Med.
This is looking the other direction out of my window. The white building is the hospital for students (Like KU Med).
Traffic is crazy here, they are crazy drivers, but no matter what, all the cars stop at the cross walks for pedistrians. It’s very different than the US. And there are stop lights for the pedistrians.. The cars stop and the pedistrians go.. since there are so many people that walk around this is a wonderful idea.
I’m not exactly sure why there were little horses outside, but I had to take a picture of them. I think they were giving carriage rides, but I’m not sure.
My bedroom is very small, but it doesn’t need to be very big. It looks just like a dorm room. Julie, the caretaker of Encarna’s mom, is also the maid. She makes my bed everyday (even though I make it myself, she remakes it.. hmm whatever), and she tidies up my room, makes sure all my toiletries are in line and neat and she mops the floor like once a week.
The blinds in my room are freaking amazing! There’s a crank on the bottom right side of the window to crank the blinds down.. when they’re closed all the way you can’t even tell that there’s daylight outside. This makes getting out of bed very difficult in the mornings. The blinds are on the outside of the window..also very different.
The other side of my room.. like I said, it looks like a dorm room. The cross bar under my desk is covered in seran wrap so it doesn’t get dirty when the girls she houses put their feet on it. Luckily there is a lot of places to store things in my room.
Haha.. as you can see I didn’t bring very many things with me to wear. My host mom wears the same thing for like 2 or 3 days in a row, so she doesn’t have to do as much laundry. I, on the other hand, didn’t want to pack everything that was in my closet at home. The thing to wear here is skinny jeans or leggings, boots and a nice shirt. Some things that I regret not bringing: my boots and my pea coat!! So I went and bought a cute pair of botines (shorty boots) for 9 euro and a cute coat for 20 euro.. not too shabby. I also bought a purse, a shirt, botines, shampoo, a coat, and a scarf. When I came home with all my new things my host mom was in shock! She couldn’t believe how much stuff I had bought.. but I told her that I didn’t want to look like an American anymore.. she just laughed so hard. My blonde hair definitely gives away my American-ness.
The other side of my closet.. like I said before.. lots of room to store things. Everything that I didn’t need to hang up is in the drawers. Lots of space.
Coat rack. You’d be surprised.. even though you would think it’s like paradise here because it’s 45 degrees at night and around 60-65 during the day, the coldness is very different. It’s very dry and the buildings are so close together that it feels much colder than it actually is. AND everyone here thinks it’s FREEZING. They walk around in coats and scarves when it’s above 60 degrees! How crazy.
The heat here is not very strong. Our apartment is very cold, but this is the heater. It’s a steam heater.. and I don’t think it’s ever on haha.
I hope this picture turns out, because I can’t see it right now. This is my bathroom. I’m only allowed to shower in the other bathroom because that’s the one that Encarna and her mom use.
Granada (and possibly Spain, but I’m not sure) has a shortage of water, so water is very expensive. Therefore, when using the toilet, we only flush when it’s not yellow (a nice way of saying it anyway). haha. Also in the shower, to conserve water, my host mom warms the water for me, then she saves that cold water for cooking. And I have to turn the water on, get my hair and body wet, turn the water off, shampoo my hair, wash my face and body then turn the water back on and rinse off. The shower head is not like in the US where it’s up high, in my apartment the shower head is moveable. I have to actually pick it up and rinse myself off and then put it down to wash, then pick it back up. This makes showering not very enjoyable.
Like I said before, things here aren’t weird or bad, they’re just different. It’s a very different way of living. It’s hard to get used to. I’m definitely feeling culture shock right now, and I miss everything being so convenient in the United States. I just have to keep telling myself this is why I came here. And even though i prepared myself for all these changes, it wasn’t ever real until I started living it. Don’t get me wrong, I love Spain. I love being here. And I love learning the language and culture. It’s just very hard to become accustomed to living a different way everyday. So at the end of the day, living in Spain is not weird or bad, it’s just different.