Six and a half months into my stay in Spain and even though the weather is beginning to transform from chilly (by Spanish standards) to the sunny paradise that I remember from last year, I can’t help but feel homesick for New York. And although I of course miss the obvious things like my family and friends, I find myself yearning for some of the smaller comforts of home that are just hard to come by here in Seville.
1. American Food (namely, BAGELS)
There’s only so much ham you can eat before you never want to be within 5 feet of it ever again. And despite the fact that there are a lot of Spanish tapas that I love (i.e croquettas, tortilla española, salmorejo, patatas bravas), to say I miss the American diet is an understatement. It doesn’t help that I have to cook for myself, something I’ve never had the patience/knowhow to do effectively (despite two years of practice in college). I envy the people who are able to construct elaborate meals for themselves after a long day at work, considering I struggle to even make sure I eat a vegetable every day. I would do shameful things for a BEC with saltpepperandketchup on an everything bagel. It will undoubtably be one my first meals the moment I step off the plane.
2. Consolidation & Variety
What I mean by this is that grocery shopping (something I actually really enjoyed doing in the past) is typically an all day event for me here. Not only are the grocery stores minuscule and offer very little selection, but none of them have every single thing I need in one place, like my beloved Shoprite in Warwick (shoutout). So, to get basic things like bread, milk, eggs, etc., I can go to the tiny El Jamón across the street from my apartment building (yes, the supermarket is called The Ham), but if I want to get chicken cutlets or coldcuts that are not packaged with a 2:1 plastic-to-meat ratio and chock-full of preservatives, I have to go to a carnercería. And for fresh fruit and vegetables to a frutería (where I dictate to the shopkeeper everything that I want so he can personally bag and weigh it for me, resulting in his fruitless (lol) attempts to sell me something additional…look, never in my life have I cooked anything with parsley, and I don’t plan on starting now). And for more “obscure” things like peanut butter, coconut oil, hummus, etc., or if I want more of a selection, I take the metro to the largest supermarket in Seville, located below El Corte Inglés department store, or to Mercadona, a 15 minute walk from my apartment (not fun with bags full of frozen pizza and ice-cream). In addition, over-the-counter medications like Ibuprofen or cough syrup aren’t available on the shelves at supermarkets, you need to ask a pharmacist at a pharmacy to get it for you. Minor inconveniences, but when you’re used to everything being within reach, it can become frustrating.
3. Early Bedtimes
I apparently have the stamina of a three-year-old, because when Spanish people are just beginning their night, I’m already asleep on the dance floor. Waiting until 11:00pm to meet up for drinks and then hitting the club at 2:00am just doesn’t work for me. If birds are chirping by the time we leave the club, you can guarantee that I will be down for the count the entire next day. I miss the days when 8:00pm was an appropriate time to meet at the bar and everything closed by 3:00am the latest.
4. Being Easily Understood
“But aren’t you fluent in Spanish?” The short answer is no. To be fluent in any language takes a long time and a lot of practice, and as an English teacher, the primary language that I speak daily is English. Have I been able to survive until this point on my Spanish? Sure. Do I possess the vocabulary to communicate every single thing I want to say? Sadly, no. Not to mention that communicating with Andalusians is a whole different ballgame. I can remember the feeling of relief when I first returned from Spain last year when I didn’t have to think about my words before ordering something from a restaurant, and not ending up with something completely different than I expected due to miscommunication.
5. Toilet Paper in Public Bathrooms
Self explanatory. Four years of dirty frat houses have prepared me well for the bathroom scene in Seville.
6. Things Always Being Open
I live in a historic neighborhood that very strictly adheres to the rules of siesta, which means that between the hours of 2:00-5:00, all stores aside from the largest chains close down. Which is extremely inconvenient for me being as that is usually the time I have off from classes and would like to run errands. Unsure why people need to take so long to have lunch and “rest,” considering most stores and cafés don’t even open until 9:00am anyway.
7. American Online TV Streaming Websites
Didn’t realize how big a part of my life Hulu and other TV streaming websites were until I was greeted with an apologetic “sorry, our website doesn’t extend to your region” notice on every site I visited. Seriously, every single one. My Netflix account doesn’t even offer the same movies and TV shows as it does when I am home. Obviously not a major problem, but I can’t help but feel a little disconnected from my country when I don’t have the privilege of watching the newest episode of Family Guy or catch up on The Bachelor, my guilty pleasure.
I realize as I write this that it sounds a lot like I am complaining about life here, when in reality these are just little annoyances I’ve accumulated in my many months of happiness here. Honestly, I can’t think of a place I’d rather be right now, especially given the three feet of snow on my porch in New York at the present moment. I’ll be sure to follow up with a post redeeming my lovely city, but in the meantime, someone please send me a bagel…