- …everything was in Spanish (of course!) and I spoke, breathed, and lived the Spanish culture and lifestyle. I went to the Enforex language schools in Salamanca, Valencia, and Sevilla (I’ve been to Spain 4 times) and had the BEST teachers! Enforex took care of us so well – from being picked up from the airport to organizing weekend trips to being transferred to our houses. I also met other students from different parts of the world and I always looked forward to going to class every day.
- …I learned to get used to the schedule of eating, which was lunch at 3 PM and dinner at 10 PM or even later. At first I was so hungry all the time but I got the hang of it. I looked forward to eating tapas and having a glass of sangria with my friends after a full day of classes or shopping.
- …I tried so many kinds of Spanish food : tapas, cochinillo, muy ricos churros con chocolate, arroz con leche, paella, crema catalana, and the one thing that I miss the most: COLA CAO!
- …I got to wear coats, scarves and boots for the autumn season (I’m from the Philippines – which has tropical weather all year round) and shopped almost everyday in places like Mango, Zara and H&M– which are more expensive and have smaller shops in my country.
- … LA SIESTA was strictly obeyed – an entire city is dead between 2-5 PM, which I thought was practical for…
- …IR DE MARCHA (going out at night)! I “learned” to go out and party the Spanish way, which meant meeting up past midnight and not going home until la madrugada or when the sun was up! Thursday was the official night of going out for students and everyone, of all shapes, sizes, nationalities, ages, and even genders – go out. No other people party like the Spanish do and they know how to have a good fiesta. I enjoyed every minute of it. It was a good and fun way to meet other students and also to dance to Spanish music. (Bailamos!) I don’t think I’ve ever danced that much in my entire life! All the bars were next to each other so we would walk from one place to another and completely forget about the cold. Who would have thought that the streets could be alive and scattered with young people at 3AM – on a Monday?
- …different cities have different architecture and art. Salamanca is one of the most beautiful cities that I have ever seen in my life! Everything seems to be covered in gold, especially at night when the Plaza Mayor and the other cathedrals are lit up.Valencia has a more Mediterranean feel, especially since everything was so close to the beach. I also saw the Moorish influence in Sevilla – there were more colors and more shapes, which I absolutely loved.
- …there were guapo boys everywhere!!! There were the international students, the Universidad students, Principe Felipe of Spain (Yes!!! He was in Salamanca for the day!), Raúl and David Beckham during the Real Madrid game (Okay, Beckham was not Spanish, but still!), to even the chico that sold stamps in magazine stands.
- …Spanish boys in particular would not stop themselves from expressing their interest or give piropos. When I walked around with my friends, it was fun to get so much attention (after all, we were foreigners and from a pretty exotic country. All this happened almost on a daily basis: someone staring in your face, a Spanish university student saying that you were a “quince” (fifteen) on the 1-10 belleza (beauty) level, and some good looking boy saying, “Hola guapa, qué tal?”
I miss Spain because even it’s only been a couple of years since I was last there and I’ve already been there so many times, it is a place I’ve always felt like home. My life now here in the Philippines is influenced so much by the Spanish culture – I teach Spanish and I’m even learning how to speak Catalan, I listen to Spanish music and go to as much Spanish events that we have here, I spend time with my Spanish friends in Manila, I asked my friends who own a Spanish restaurant to add arroz con leche and paella fideua in their menu, and I felt as proud and as happy as any Spanish citizen when the national team won the 2010 World Cup!
I miss Spain, muchísimo. And I know for sure that I’ll be back.
Elaine Abonal is now a language instructor and teaches English, Spanish, and French in Manila, the Philippines. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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