Siestas, Fiestas, Carnaval, and more in Spain

Siestas, Fiestas, Carnaval, and more in Spain

There honestly is no easy way to describe my first few weeks living here… IN SPAIN! My life has turned completely upside down! Of course it is difficult, but so rewarding and enjoyable at the same time.  There are so many differences between my small town here and my big city in the United States.  To me, the culture shock of life was not odd or intimidating, but rather like a breath of fresh air.  One of the hardest things to adapt to is obviously the language.  Wow.  Although it is still a little difficult to communicate fully with people, my Spanish has improved a ridiculous amount.

Originally, my Spanish was very short and choppy and it was very difficult to comprehend others. Now? I am able to understand most conversations and my sentences are fluent and actually make sense! At least I hope they do… Of course I have made many mistakes, but the most important thing to have in this situation is a great sense of humor! When I have talked to family and friends, it is a little difficult to change back to English because it is constantly Spanish in my head.

Another big difference is transportation. I walk. EVERYWHERE. I love it! The town of Villanueva is small, but not too small! Whenever I take a walk in the town, I always run in to people I know! On the Main Street, which is about 5 minutes away, there are restaurants, clothing stores, grocery stores, and of course, coffee shops!  I have really taken advantage of having the center of town so close since it is such a great way to experience the culture.  I have found that it has been easy to make friends here, even with my lack of Spanish communication skills! It is no wonder Spain is known for having such welcoming and kind people!

This past weekend was a holiday called Carnaval, it is essentially four days of Halloween, but without the candy. Although my town does not celebrate with a huge parade, many other cities have huge parties where everyone wears a costume and lets loose! On Sunday morning, my family decided to take me hiking on Gredos, which are huge mountains near Madrid. As many people know, Arizona does not have many huge mountains and there is never snow in my city, so this was definitely a new experience. Whenever I fell (which was a lot), my host family and I would laugh, get back up, and push forward. Not every day do I go to huge, beautiful mountains and Halloween parties…

My normal day goes something like this…

7:30- Wake up and get ready for school!

We eat a very small breakfast right before going to school. My house  is located just down the street from the school, so we normally leave the house at 8:18 to get to school on time.

8:20-2:20- School!

Told you.. The school is practically our neighbor! In school, I normally have six classes with two, 15 minute breaks during the day. Except on Friday I only have four because school is let out early! What I love is how the schedule is different every day, which makes each of the classes more exciting. On the topic of classes, I am commonly asked, “How have your classes been?” Many of my classes are very fun, but others are difficult.. Not only because of the language barrier, but the curriculum is very difficult… Even for the students who live here! However, most teachers are very understanding and are willing to help me when I have questions!

3:00- Time for Lunch!

This may be the best part of the day! Every day, my parents make a big lunch for the whole family to enjoy together! This is one of my favorite things about the culture here because everyone stops what they are doing to spend time together and enjoy a meal. The food here… Oh. My. Goodness. I have not tried one thing that I have not liked!  Maybe it is because my host parents are incredible cooks! I try to learn, but with my luck, I would probably burn the house down!

4:00-5:30- SIESTA!

Okay, so… Maybe this is the best part of the day… This is the time when I just relax at home or take a nap, when I do not have to study or have a lot of homework. From 2 o’clock to 5 o’clock, all the stores close for siestas! So normally everyone just relaxes during this time period!

6:00- Gym, run, and coffee!

After resting for a while at home, I like to go on a run on the Main Street of the city. Normally, two days of the week I go to the local gym with my friends from school that are members of the club. Currently, I am looking in my city for dance classes and volunteer opportunities as well! It is very common in Spanish culture to go out to get drinks in the afternoon/night. Therefore, many days during the week I go to local coffee shops to meet with friends and practice my Spanish. It is very normal to only have one drink, but stay at the shop for hours because you just continue to talk! This is very different from America because it seems as though there everyone is always in a rush and has something they need to do.  Living here has definitely helped me to become more laid back and enjoy the current moments in life.

10:00- Dinner!

Yes, ten o’clock! After everyone has finished all of their activities for the day, the family once again comes together to have a meal and discuss the events of the day. Normally, the dinner is a little smaller because the main meal of the day is lunch.

11:30-12:00- Shower and off to bed!

My long day finally ends around midnight, after I shower and change into my pajamas of course! Side note: in the house, the whole family  wears slippers, never are they barefoot or only wearing socks.  I did  not even own a pair of slippers before coming here!

As each day ends here, I realize how lucky I am to be blessed with such an amazing opportunity. I knew my first day here that this is the best experience of my life and to enjoy every precious moment. I cannot wait to see what else Spain has in store for me!

alana in class

In my theater class, for the holiday, our teachers let us put on make up at school in order to celebrate. Eventually, they convinced me to put on makeup too! (I was a cat… Original, I know!)


alana in Spain for a party

This is a photo with Sophie! Although we go to different schools, it is very easy to go out with people from all over the city. This photo was taken at a goodbye party for exchange students at her school that lived in Spain for 5 days. I was blessed with the opportunity of meeting many other amazing people from all over Europe, which is an experience I will never forget!


alana at carnaval

This is a photo with my friend Marcos at a Carnaval celebration. My costume was a robber and Marcos was… Something… I don’t really know what!



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