I have just hit my two-month mark in Granada, Spain and to be quite honest, it still doesn’t feel real. I feel as if I’m in a dream and any moment I’ll wake up and be in Norton, Massachusetts. Southern Spain is something unlike I’ve ever experienced before. From the tapas culture, to the “no pasa nada” vibe, from the mix of old and new cultural influences, to the ability to see snow capped mountains and palm trees in the same glance, Spain is anything but Norton, Massachusetts, and is just the change of pace I needed.
So the question I got asked the most before leaving for Spain was “do you know Spanish?” and with this I always replied a gentle “más o menos” looking at my nine years of high school and college classes. As it turns out I was blindly prepared. Upon arrival, I began realizing the “menos” part to be more the case. Right off the plane in sunny Malaga, I was faced with the Andulusian accent, which basically means Spanish with every “s” or “d” dropped off, like it’s nothing. A simple “De donde eres?” made my head spin the first couple weeks as I got adjusted to an accent I had not been prepared for. Then something happened that I would have never guessed, but as the weeks continued, I heard myself dropping the “s” on “gracias” for a quick statement and becoming accustomed to this new, relaxed way of speaking. Also note to Spanish professors everywhere: TEACH THE VOSOTROS FORM MORE.
Everything about Southern Spain is so much more relaxed, and if anyone knows me, this was a change of pace that I desperately needed. Coming from New England, going to school near Boston, and being an active member of campus, multitasking and doing things as fast and efficiently as possible is how I survive. So coming to Granada and having two to three hours in the middle of the day simply to eat amazing home cooked meals and nap was completely foreign to me. Now, I look forward to my host mom’s cuisine and siestas the minute I wake up. I was shocked with this ultra relaxed culture that anyone got anything done, but as I watched and learned, I actually and amazingly saw that everything was done with a purpose and to its fullest potential. When you go to a cafe, you are there to drink coffee and chat with friends. It is very rare to see laptops out and people working, as you would at nearly any place in the states. (But, I found a good place that has slowly become my study spot, which is where I am as I write this post). There is a time and place for everything and it is rare to see someone running down the street, juggling coffee and a briefcase. You walk in Spain with purpose, but leisurely. Life is slowed down and enjoyed more. An important lesson I really needed.
Moving past culture and language, and to the most important thing. Granada is full of dogs. They are simply everywhere, often without leashes (but still incredibly well-behaved). This is such a common thing that I have seen multiple dog parking signs near stores and bars. Here is an example:
Although it is less common to ask someone to pet their dog, I always manage to find one, usually on my runs, that will run beside me with a ball in its mouth, ready to play.
So if I can take anything from my time in Spain, it is: relax more, take things one at a time whenever possible, and enjoy the dogs.