Oliver in Spain: Personal Growth

My previous posts have been full of various activities and travels that I have been experiencing throughout the last two months and my future posts will probably be along the same vain. That being said, I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about the changes in my confidence, maturity, and self-awareness.

I have now been out of my comfort zone of the American East Coast for a couple months and I have been having the time of my life. But, this semester hasn’t always been fun and easy, the first two weeks were some of the most challenging weeks I have had in my life. Entering a completely new country with a different language was a bold move that threw me into the deep end from day one. I was picked up by my host mother upon arrival and immediately was thrown into Spanish conversation (keep in mind that I hadn’t spoken Spanish since April of last year…). This was quickly followed by a full introduction to every member of my host family. Needless to say, my brain was spinning by the time I lay down for the night.

The next few days were no easier. I was transitioning to a new culture while also not being permitted to speak English in class, at school, or at home. It is hard enough to get to know people that speak the same language as you, but becoming friends and even family with people while only speaking Spanish is easily the hardest thing I have ever had to do. The first two weeks were very difficult, but by week three I was beginning to find comfort in my language abilities.

For all of you who are reading this and are looking to study abroad, I have some advice. Whether you are in a country that speaks your language or not, you will feel overwhelmed. Every country has its own, unique, culture that you will not be used to. Whenever I was feeling overwhelmed I went outside. No matter where you are, fresh air is huge to relax your senses. Go for a run or walk around your new city. It will calm you down and will help to familiarize yourself with this new location. Also, reach out to the students on your program. They are going through the exact same things you are and will be a good resource, even if it means just talking football or baseball.

Overcoming something like this has an incredibly positive effect on your persona. I have never felt so self-assured in my life. Booking flights and apartments, navigating a new city during fall break, and approaching people who know zero english come easy. These are all things that I would still be very hesitant to do had I stayed in the States this semester. As my friend Andy said, “necessity brings about greater development than anything else.” You come to rely on yourself a lot when you have no comfort zone and you have not found someone to trust yet.

I apologize for all of the text but I wanted to inform you guys on what has been going on in my head since coming to Valencia. It has been tough at times, but you don’t grow without facing challenges.

Now for the fun:

This weekend has been full of sports for me, specifically the Valencia Open and another football (soccer) game! I spent pretty much all day friday at the Ágora, a small building that houses the Valencia Open. In this building I checked off one the biggest ticks on my bucket list, watch Andy Murray play. Murray went on to win the tournament!

Ágora

Ágora

Saturday night I went to my second Valencia football game, and it did not disappoint. In this derby game, Elche (another team from the Valenciano region) came to la Mestalla and took a thrashing from los Che. The final score 3-1! Valencia now stands at fourth place in la Liga, only two points away from first place Barcelona.

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Finally, I cannot believe I have not posted a photo of Paella yet, but here is a picture of my Sunday lunch!

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This coming weekend I will be heading to Barcelona, so if the post is delayed I apologize in advance! Talk to you all soon.

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