I have spent the last two weeks getting accustomed to living in a foreign land, speaking a language I am clearly not fluent in, with a new family, whilst trying to make new friends. A bit overwhelming. Yet in only a week’s hindsight, it’s not a stretch to say that it has a lot similarities to freshman year at college.
Allow me to explain. There has been no routine. Every experience has been experienced for the first time. Spain, and all of it’s challenges, has been exhilarating. The Romantics once said that to experience something for the first time is living. The second time around is merely a coincidence. The third time, however, is routine. And routine is the death of one’s spirit.
I’m not saying that my spirit was dying back in the States. Far from it. Rather, I’m trying to convey the breath of fresh air that traveling and seeing new places brings.
The other day, a man interrupted a conversation I was sharing with a few others in the Liberal Arts study abroad program at a cafe. We were unsure of the specific uses of the phrases “perdón,” “disculpame,” and “lo siento.”
In a heavy Nordic accent, he explained the different uses and the appropriate time to use each phrase. We continued to chat, eventually learning that he had been traveling the world alone for the past 3 months, spending 2 months in the Amazon and another month in Central America. Apparently, he decided to continue traveling to Spain because he noticed flight prices have dropped. His current country total was 65! And, he preferred to travel alone, with only his camera for company; claiming that traveling with others was a distraction from learning the culture at hand. It seems to have worked for him, considering he speaks 6 languages and has a Ph.D. A source of inspiration indeed.