When I arrived in Villanueva two and a half weeks ago, I didn’t speak any Spanish. I could barely understand anyone, let alone carry on a conversation. Although I was so excited to be in Spain and in this amazing and quaint town, it was incredibly frustrating to not be able to communicate with most people. Having never been outside of the United States before nor in a situation where I couldn’t communicate freely, I was initially conflicted between feeling so lucky to be here yet immensely isolated as a non-Spanish speaker.
This past week, things got easier. I started my classes and met Spanish students who are striving to learn a new language, too. I am constantly meeting new people from the town who are incredibly understanding and kind with me, despite the language barrier. And of course, thanks to my host family especially, I have felt so welcome here. I am so grateful to Rafi, Tere, and Juanra for being so wonderful to me; they have gone out of their way to make me comfortable here, have put up with my endless “más despacio, por favor” and “no entiendo” annoyances, and have done so much to familiarize me with Andalucía’s unique culture. I could not have asked for a better place to live.
Despite the ups and downs, I am having the best time here. From teaching cool and enthusiastic English students at the academia, to attending a ham-cutting spectacle in Toledo, to going to my first Botellón last weekend, this has been an incredibly rewarding experience thus far. I can’t believe I have been here for almost three weeks; I have already improved so much in my Spanish (I can actually have a conversation now!). Looking forward, I am so excited for what’s to come this month with the academia and also to continue to improve in Spanish. Although these past weeks have been very trying for me, I can appreciate the hard work, struggle, and yet unequivocal growth that got me to where I am right now!