Back in Spain and Feeling as if I Never Left
I’m a little late in joining the party, but thrilled to be here nonetheless! My name is Erin Schrode and I am a junior in CAS currently studying abroad for the term in Madrid, Spain. I spent last fall at our NYU campus in Accra, Ghana and the spring at the site in Tel Aviv, Israel. Both of these experiences were thoroughly fascinating, offering in depth insight into distinct cultures with which I was previously unfamiliar… but I will leave the tales of West Africa and the Middle East to those studying there now… or perhaps reflect on them in future posts. For now, I will focus on the glorious European country I will call home for the next few months: Spain.
The summer after my freshman year of high school, I first came to Spain as a part of the Rassias program. With a group of twenty American students, I traveled throughout the country, getting a taste of its diversity and gaining familiarity with the general paisaje
(landscape), as we made our way from Ávila, Merida, Sevilla, Salamanca, and other cities. Guided tours provided rich historical context, enabling a deeper appreciation for all I was seeing: the buildings, walls, museums, you name it. Ample time for free exploration allowed me to sense the pulse of the nation, the young modern vibe which I quickly grew to love. I was hooked on Spain within a matter of weeks.
My subsequent homestay with a family in Pontevedra, a city in the northwestern province of Galicia, solidified my sense of comfort with and interest in the culture. I grew incredibly close to my mother, father, and three older siblings (see our photo above) – and now call them my second family, having been back to visit twice with other family and friends. Each morning, I had intensive Spanish classes (focusing on speaking through rapid-fire exercises), followed by a dance class at the gym, and then went back home for the main meal of the day: lunch.
Lunch is quite something in Spain, a multiple hour ordeal (from around 2 – 4p) for which much of the population returns home to enjoy with family or takes the three-course ‘menú del día’ at one of many restaurants. Stores close for this midday break, which, for some, still includes a siesta
, though the practice of napping is becoming less common.In general, fresh bountiful food plays a huge role in daily Spanish life and I fell in love with the cuisine: gazpacho, paella, tortilla española, and manchego cheese, to name but a few, are among the traditional dishes and elements I enjoy most.
Afternoons were a mellow time, spent going on a walk, shopping, reading, or meeting up with friends at a café, followed by a light dinner – and then an evening out. In the Spanish schedule, everything happens later, which includes meals and bedtime. It is entirely common to see a family with young children arrive at a restaurant for dinner at 11p. Teens, twenty-somethings, and adults alike pass the early morning at bars and lounges, soaking in all that the nightlife culture has to offer, so that is the lifestyle to which I became accustomed.
Only a few days before I left for this term, I had yet to start packing or really giving any mind to the fact I would soon be making the cross-continental move.
Immersing myself in Spanish culture felt completely natural five years ago – and being back here, I feel right at home once again. Spain and Erin get along quite well indeed!