An opportunity of a lifetime
Studying abroad in Málaga, Spain from September 26-December 23 was an opportunity of a lifetime. At first, I thought Málaga was just a beach town; however, as time went by, I learned that it is much more than that. It is a place to spend quality time with friends at restaurants, chatting for hours undisturbed by waiters and waitresses, a place where it is acceptable to go to the beach on any given day, even if it too chilly to swim, a place to exercise and stay in shape, and most of all, a place I called home.
Even though Spain is quite different from America, I feel like it was not too difficult to adjust. I think the biggest differences are the many elements that deal with food – the eating times, the restaurant/billing experience, and the food itself. I really enjoyed the fresh seafood, especially the calamari; however, I am not a fan of the amount of pan eaten in a day or the bocadillos, especially not the ones with jámon serrano. Along with that, the whole Spanish lifestyle is much more laid back than the American lifestyle, which I liked very much. Additionally, dress and presentation out in public is valued much more in Spain. I scarcely saw people in sweatpants or sweatshirts out in public; on the flip side, almost everyone wears nice shoes, button-downs/blouses, and nice pants or for women, skirts and dresses. It is so nice to see people who really care about how they are perceived for once.
In regards to volunteering at the school, I would say that was one of my best decisions in Málaga. What better way to get immersed into the culture than to work with students whose hometown is Málaga?! Over the course of my time there, I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know some of the students. I must say, I am extremely impressed with their ability to speak English at such a young age, and they speak it fairly well! I hope activities and games we played in class helped improve their English skills. During a presentation about Halloween in America we discussed the differences between how Halloween is celebrated in Spain with scary costumes, and in America where cute/non-scary costumes are more common. In regards to the new volunteers, I think they should be friendly and not afraid to talk with the students in order get to know them on more of a personal level.