The joy that a person feels when they do something for the first time is hard to describe, but it is a joy that I hope everyone experiences at some point in their life. This semester in Spain has been full of first times already, and we are only seven weeks into the semester. This is the first time I have spent a semester abroad. I have traveled in Europe before, I spent a month traveling to a number of different countries in the summer of 2009, but I have never spent 4 months in a foreign country.
Upon arrival I met my host family for the first time. What a shock! I walked into a house, filled with strangers who spoke a language I hardly understood. It was 10:00 pm at night, I had traveled for 36 hours, and I was so tired I could hardly walk a straight line. But, I managed to introduce myself, and have a small conversation before I went to bed. When I woke up for the first time in the room that was to be home for four months, I had no idea where I was. Across the room I heard someone say “hello,” I rolled over and there was my roommate, the first American I met in Sevilla, and my first friend.
Later that day, I walked around Sevilla for the first time, and realized that I love living in a city. Meeting new people is always a great first time experience, especially when you become good friends and can look back and say, “remember when we first met.” When I first met the professors, staff members, and other students of Acento, I’m pretty sure they would say of me, “remember when we first met and you were so jet lagged you looked like a zombie…” Yes, of course, there are first times being jet lagged.
There are those times when I tried to talk to my Señora, and never felt like we were communicating. And then there was that day when I realized that I had been having a conversation with her for the past 30 minutes, and never even realized it! There are those times when I went to church and couldn’t understand a word, and then a few weeks later I could understand almost everything going on.
There are the first times meeting new Spanish friends, and the first time going out with those friends and finding out that I am the only one who speaks English. This was somewhat of a scary first time experience, but when it was over, and I realized that I had just hung out with friends in a foreign country; in a foreign language….and I actually talked quite a bit during the evening, the feeling of accomplishment was exhilarating.
There are also the first times trying new foods, and ordering that food in Spanish. Specific times that come to mind are when I ordered hot chocolate and it was actually hot, melted, thick chocolate in a tiny mug. SOOOOO GOOD! Or the two times I ordered some type of dish with fish and the fish was raw, I definitely did not eat much of it, but I did try it. There is also the first time you eat fried fish and find out the bones and the head and the scales are all still there, or eat squid with eyes still attached. Or the first time your roommate orders something called Menudo and you find out its cow stomach. I am still a little nervous when I order food, but I’m guessing that won’t last long, and I will be so happy when I can say that I ordered food, and I am quite certain what it is.
Another accomplishment that made my roommate and I feel good about ourselves was when we conquered the bus system. We have our bus cards, and we know which bus gets us to wherever we need to go. Slightly more difficult than the local bus system, is buying bus tickets for a trip. The first time my roommate, our friend, and I did this we were quite thrilled with our accomplishment. It wasn’t just that we had bought bus tickets for a trip that we were looking forward to, it was that we had done it all in Spanish.
There was the first time I saw the Mediterranean Sea, and the first time I saw Spanish mountains. The first time we saw the countryside, and farms. The first time I gave directions in Spanish to a native Spaniard, and first time I returned to Sevilla from a weekend trip, and realized I was home.
There are many other first times that have happened and will happen while I and the rest of the Acento students are in Sevilla. Some of those first times may not be our favorites, and many of those first times will be incredibly fun, but hopefully through it all we will grow as people in our language capability, in our spiritual lives, and in our capability to handle any situation. – See more at: https://www.semesterinspain.org/blogs?page=12#sthash.YixiIrn3.dpuf