the first weeks
It has officially been two weeks now since I arrived here in Cáceres. So far, life here has been pretty crazy and full of a bunch of major changes. The Spanish lifestyle is definitely very different from life back at home, but I actually feel pretty shocked at how quickly I’m becoming accustomed to it.
I’m lucky to be living with a wonderful Spanish host family in their home during my time here. My family includes my host parents Flori and Juan Carlos, and my host brother Javier. I also have a roommate, another Iowa State student and my new friend, Abby. Our Spanish family has truly taken us in as their own. I can’t say enough good things about them. Every day, our host mom Flori makes us delicious authentic meals, and always makes sure we never leave for school without our bocadillos (sandwiches) packed up in our backpacks. :’)
I can definitely say that if your goal is to learn a new language, family stay is the way to go. My host parents don’t speak any English, so my roommate and I are forced to speak Spanish all the time. If I’m being honest, it can sometimes be a little exhausting always thinking in both languages and constantly translating everything in my head. But it’s still so worth it. Even after the first couple of days, I could feel my mind switching gears and thinking more in Spanish. Every day I’m learning new words and improving a little bit. I feel like I’ve learned more Spanish in the couple weeks I’ve been in Cáceres than in the six (ish) years I’ve been studying Spanish. Some of my favorite times so far have been the long, interesting conversations my roommate and I have had with our host parents, most of which result in our host mom Flori telling Juan Carlos to slow down because she can tell we can’t understand him. (Haha - she's normally right).
Classes are also now in full swing! I have class Monday-Thursday at 8:30am. (Not my favorite part, but I'm definitely taking full advantage of the siestas here) I'm taking four different Spanish classes for a total of 12 credits - Spain today, Spanish literature, Spanish culture and business, and English to Spanish translation. All of which are much more interesting to take while actually living in Spain!
Along with starting class and speaking broken Spanish with my host family, these first couple weeks have been pretty jam packed with exploring my new city, getting to know my new friends, staying up way too late, making future travel plans and drinking lots of cafe con leche -- something I can definitely get used to!! I'm also teaching English conversation classes to two little boys twice a week. They are already little experts at English, so we mostly just play games together and talk. It's a lot of fun, plus it's a great way for me to make a little bit of money while I'm here.
I’m feeling very content with my choice to study abroad here in Cáceres. Like I mentioned a little in my previous post, Cáceres is not a touristy city. The locals are beyond friendly and not annoyed by us Americans (most of the time ;) ). After the craziness of traveling last weekend, I felt so happy to come back to Cáceres. As cheesy and cliché as it may sound, it’s already starting to feel like a second home.