For the upcoming Spring semester, my posts will be a little bit different from the norm. This is because I have been given the incredible opportunity to study at the University of Valencia this semester through the Center for Global Education at Rutgers! I’ve only been in the city for four days, and I am already sure I’m going to love it! The first few days have been overwhelming, as expected, but I’m finally settling in and adjusting to life in Spain.
Some aspects of life here in Spain are very different from mine, and of many people, back in the US. Unlike many college students, I’m not that big on taking naps; however, siestas are a very real thing here. Every day at 2 pm (14:00 in Valencia!) almost all of the shops and businesses close, except for restaurants, banks, and a few other essential places. The siesta is a time to relax, to eat a large, enjoyable meal, and literally take a nap. Because dinner is served so late here, I find myself wishing I could more easily nap during the day to avoid sleeping on such a full stomach at night. However, I’ve already started to grow more comfortable with the concept, and perhaps I’ll take a siesta every day when I return to New Brunswick.
The food is another thing that is very different in Spain than it is back in the states. Valencia is the birthplace of paella, a Spanish dish that is made up of rice. It is an assortment of a few different kinds of vegetables and a mixture of meat, depending on what region you are in. Traditional Valencian paella has chicken and rabbit in it, which is not quite what I expected, but is absolutely delicious. I’m still adjusting to the sodium content of the food here, which has come as quite a shock in comparison to my extremely low sodium diet at home. I think I may have audibly gasped when they salted the salad at the first restaurant I went to. Other than the salt, everything I’ve tried here so far is great. Most of the meals include jamón (ham), and almost all of the vegetables are locally grown in the areas that surround Valencia.
I cannot believe how normal living in Valencia feels after only four days! There are still some things I am getting used to, and I know I will continue to get annoyed at my frustrating lack and meticulously slow improvement of Spanish knowledge, but adjusting to life in a new country on a different continent is a process that takes a lot of patience and determination. I am nothing but excited to see what changes and experiences the next five and a half months of my life bring!
(I will still be writing for the Honors Program Blog, but if you want to see more posts and photos from Valencia, I’ll be keeping a blog with the url madelinepadner.wordpress.com!!)