1. The Flexible Time Schedule
There exists a heavy stereotype against Spaniards that claims they are nearly always late due to their flexible time schedule and general nonchalance in regard to the pressure of the clock. I would like to politely confirm that stereotype. For nearly every meeting point, bus schedule, or mealtime, the determined hour is often followed by “y,” the Spanish version of “ish.” Although this cultural idiosyncrasy is entertaining and frankly convenient for people who run late as frequently as I do, the lesson of this nuance is the Spanish acceptance of life as it happens. They care less for concrete time but rather for unhurried feeling and spontaneous experience and the end result of being together, no matter at what time that togetherness finally occurs.
2. The Linguistic Diversity
As a Spanish student for nearly seven years, I have consistently received praise toward the value of the skill I am developing and the rarity and scarcity of bilingualism in the world. Unfortunately, I have been living a bit of a lie. Although it appears as though bilingualism is special – and don’t get me wrong, I think it’s incredible – it is anything but rare. In Spain, most people speak a minimum of two languages, generally Spanish and English. In Valencia particularly, the majority of people I encountered spoke three: Spanish, English, and Valencian. When I shamefully found comfort in a MacDonald’s McFlurry in Barcelona, I approached the teenager at the counter who immediately asked, “Spanish, Catalan, English, German, or French?” So no, multi-linguistic ability is not rare, nor should anyone have the perception that it is. In Spain, I realized the vastness of intercultural connectivity simply catalyzed by a shared language. I realized that my two languages are no place to stop.
3. The Availability of Travel
In Europe, people travel among countries with the ease by which Americans can travel among states. Before this experience abroad, I had only traveled with my family and they took care of everything. In Spain, I traveled nearly every weekend, and I did it with Spanish websites and last-minute housing correspondences and very limited access to the internet. In my opinion, I achieved a large feat in adulthood that will forever enlarge my confidence and comfort among the uncomfortable. In Spanish opinion, I simply traveled. Spanish people have a prominent intercultural connection that removes the myth of the grandeur of travel. To them, travel is a logical means to connect to the rest of the world. I quickly realized that the majority of the daunting task of travel is fabricated in our own narrow minds. Spain has taught me that travel is not a vacation nor is it an adventure nor is it a step toward adulthood; it is an obligation to the rest of the world to strengthen cultural awareness and gain alternative perspectives.