Not Crazy at All

Josie B. is currently a junior at SYA Spain and a blogger for the Campus Reporter program. She comes to SYA from Lakeside School in Washington.

I used to lie awake wondering how crazy I must be for “giving up” my perfectly happy life in Seattle with great friends, a loving family, and a language I know for a new family, strangers as friends, a foreign city, and a language I barely understand. However, now that I am in the middle of my third month here, I know I’m not crazy at all.

My first month was a whirlwind of “new”- new family, new friends, new school, new city, new country, and, as if all that wasn’t enough, new language. As exciting as those first few weeks were, I am glad that this is all starting to feel normal.  I finally have a real routine: wake up exactly 39 minutes before my first class starts, eat leftover Tortilla de Patata, go to school, study at La Bendita, take the train to soccer Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and English tutor Wednesday, spend time with my WONDERFUL host family, and get sent to bed with a besito from my little brother.

My host brother and I

I have stopped avoiding eye contact with every Spanish-speaker I see at the risk of not being able to respond to a simple question; I am not scared to walk into a café and order a tea anymore, and I no longer rush through dinner with a fear of having to say anything more than “la comida es muy buena.” It isn’t easy to open up or try new things when you are too scared of rejection and embarrassment. I used to exhaust myself every day, running through questions in my mind like, are they going to understand what I said? Did she just stare at me for a weirdly long time?  Do I look too American? What if she doesn’t want to be my friend? Will he sigh and roll his eyes again if I don’t order fast enough? I have learned to accept that, however good or bad my Spanish, I will always look and sound different, and I cannot ruin my year because I’m too embarrassed to make a mistake, be an annoyance or get rejected. I have experienced firsthand that, as defeating as it can be, dealing with rejection and embarrassment is one of the most humbling, enlightening, and motivational things you can do.

Just because everything is going well does not mean you shouldn’t make a change. Don’t settle for happy; if you are content, it means you’re not challenged. Take it from me- I took this risk and, after only two months, I am already a tougher, more friendly, understanding, and a more confident person than I could ever have imagined.  More importantly, complete strangers- friends, family members, teammates and teachers-  have turned into my “people,” who I know will be a part of my life for the rest of my life.

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