So over the summer I went on a study vacation to Valencia, Spain. I’m pretty sure you’ll all remember how homesick I got and how certain things went wrong. Well despite all these things, I still look back now, thinking about how I miss it and wished I’d done more!
My trip to Valencia was not only enriching in terms of how much I learnt about the language, but also in terms of the friendships I forged and the confidence I built! 🙂 But most importantly I learnt about myself.
All this talk of travelling is because me and all my friends are just starting to organise our year abroad. I’m hopefully going to Lyon, France whilst other friends of mine are heading to Spain, Italy, America! I’ve got friends in Finland, Sweden, Colombia and Holland. Wherever I turn, there are people I know who are abroad– my uncle live in Malaysia!
Everything we’re doing brought back the memories of Spain. It was my first time in Spain, ever (!) and I’ve heard that if you like Greece, then the odds are you won’t like Spain so much! Fear and worry took over probably a few days before I jetted off. My first impression was that it was hot. Just your regular Einstein I was! I love that feeling you get when you step off the plane and the wall of heat hits you. That for me, is the real beginning of an adventure… And a month in Valencia was truly just that!
My first week was a blur of mess. Thomas Cook made a huge mistake with the Mastercard top up card things (The idea would be great if the woman hadn’t messed it up and left me up the creek in a foreign country without a paddle… or a Euro!) and then I got put in the wrong class! I was really stressed out by all of this but despite crying due to blind panic, I managed to fix things! 🙂
Think thousands of people, thousands of tomatoes and limited technology! I went to this yearly tomato throwing festival in a town called Buñol with a few euros, a metro card but no phone and no door keys! I got separated from the group, one of whom had my return train ticket home and oh my word I was so terrified it was unreal! Apart from the fact that I’d been completely abandoned in a town full of rowdy tomato throwing Spaniards, apparently I’d forgotten every word of Spanish I’d ever learned in my life!
It wasn’t all bad though, I got some Spanish food– apparently chorizo in a bun is a hot-dog to those guys, which suits me just fine as it was so good! It was as I was chowing down on the best hot-dog ever known to the history of man, that I bumped into my friends Petar and Duncan who, I’ll admit, I’d never really spoken to before! But they were pretty awesome and walked back to the train station with me. The kind folks of Buñol hurled jugs of water over us and helped to hose us down along the way!
Although this day was a complete mash up of crazy and stress I can’t help but look back now, knowing I’d do it all again just to get in on the adventure. Just to say that I went to La Tomatina 2012!
But in the entire 4 weeks we were there, my friend Pavan and I became really great friends. We ate ice cream, went to the beach, explored the city centre and found a Starbucks that serve ENGLISH TEA! We went to class together, we partied together but what we wanted to do but didn’t get to was a few of the local culture events.
The aforementioned dudes, Duncan and Petar really inspired me over this trip– they really immersed themselves in the language and in the culture! They checked out museums and old buildings, went to flea markets and local music evenings, such as reggae nights and Spanish bars. These are the things I didn’t get a chance to do, but that I love to do! I often get called a nerd because I find old buildings interesting, I like to learn about other cultures, I love the sounds of each language as they roll of people’s tongue! I like to take the approach of “When in Rome… Do as the Romans do.” Purely because they live that life every day and they get the best out of it!
So I fully intend to hotfoot it back to Valencia one day to check out exactly what I missed! Because there’s more to a country than a beach and a shopping centre where you can eat all the ice cream you can get your hands on!