• Language and Culture in the Spanish-Speaking World

Making Ourselves at Home

Being in Spain is a wonderful gift and I'm extremely grateful for the experience I have had so far. I've been able to improve my Spanish, see magnificent architecture, and make new friendships that will continue on long after this journey. However, it can be difficult being so far from home and this was apparent within our group today. We are two weeks into the trip and homesickness is affecting all of us. I think it's safe to say we all miss aspects of our frigid home in the Midwest.  I especially miss my family. Tomorrow, my cousin Caitie will be getting married and it's really hard for me to miss out on such an important event. But the good thing is, we are all resilient, intelligent people, so today's main focus for a lot of us was finding ways to alleviate our homesickness.

Like any other day, we went to class. Usually, there is some sort of planned activity for the group after class, but today we had free time. We often use this time to explore the city, shop, eat, or get some much needed sleep. Today, however, a group of us went on a mission to find a food that reminds us of home... peanut butter. We encountered a shop that had all of America's most stereotypical foods packed into one store. There were Reese's, Pop Tarts, Barbecue sauce, Oreos, and so much more. Luckily they had the creamy Holy Grail of condiments that is peanut butter. Although it was about $7 a jar, it was totally worth it. We took it to a café and had a nice peanut butter and coffee snack. Simple things like this make us feel a little closer to home.

Another way we keep ourselves from being homesick is by finding a little nook within the city where we can feel comfortable and relaxed. Personally, my favorite place to go is El Huerto de Calixto y Melibea, which is a garden that is located in the southern end of the city. From here, you can see a fantastic view of Las Catedrales Vieja y Nueva. It is also a great place to read and reflect on the day’s events. Being the only boy in the group, I like to escape from all the girls from time to time. In order to do this, I go to these gardens and do manly things like watch the sunset amidst all the pretty flowers. Finding a place and making it your own is a great way to make yourself feel comfortable in a city that is 4,207 miles from home.

In closing, I'd like to say hi to all my friends and family in the Midwest. Congratulations to my cousin, Caitlin, and her soon to be husband, Jon. I love you all and I'll see you soon.

Jordan McGowan

El Huerto de Calixto y Melibea
Laura enjoying a taste of home...peanut butter!