Today when I went for a run (haha who am I kidding, it was a powerwalk) along some trails near the castle and Jewish cemetery here in Segovia, I saw something that really sums up what I have learned about Spain and her people so far. On a few steps this message was spread out: “Hoy voy a ser feliz.” For those non Spanish speakers out there it means “Today I am going to be happy.” From what I have seen so far, this is what the Spanish people live by every single day.
In my last post I referenced Star Wars and a galaxy far, far away. Spain, Segovia in particular, might not be in another galaxy, but it is quite a different lifestyle or so I am learning. After having attended a fairly prestigious university for the last two and a half years and competing to get an internship last summer, I have never had a worst case of culture shock then when coming over the pond to Spain.
I haven’t seen this aspect first hand yet, but I have been told by one of my professors, who also teaches at the local university for Spanish students, that those students are not always competing to get the best grade in class. If they get a D on an exam or other assignment, they’re happy with themselves if at the end of the assignment they learned something. If they learned something! “What kind of nonsense is that,” our education system might say. “Who cares if you learned something! No employer is going to want you if you had bad grades for four years in your twenties!”
Maybe we could learn something from the way of life here. In America, it’s a giant rat race (forgive my use of a terrible cliché) but here there’s no race at all. People are literally not even in a hurry to get from place to place on the street. I think they can tell I’m American by the way I hustle from class to home to my internship where I’ve been teaching little kids English. It’s just amazing and very strange at the same time.
We were practicing having a conversation with our grammar professor and he gave us a sheet that had conversation starters on it. One of the girls chose the question, “What are you goals in life?” I don’t recall word for word what he said, but it was along the lines of “Spend time with my family, see new things, and to be happy.”
This is another thing that is just astounding to us Americans. At no point while this professor was responding did he mention his desire for a promotion at work, to make the most money, to have the nicest things etc. His goal in life is simply to be happy.
After my first week in Spain I am already thinking that this will be my motto too. I’m in a brand new continent with so many new things to see and people to meet. I have a less vigorous academic semester than I normally world. I have the opportunity to travel within Europe and see beautiful new places. Here I might be able to forget about the constantly looming GPA, the ideas everyone has for me for after I graduate, and everything else that would normally be a stressor in my life. Here I can just drink everything in. Today, and every day, I am going to be happy.
Below are some of the pictures from this week. I didn’t get into any detail about what we did this week previously. Our group went on our first excursion on La Ruta de Los Castillos, or Route of the Castles. We saw a monastery and a couple of castles before going to a vineyard for a wine tasting. It was really interesting and a lot of fun to spend time and get to know my group better.
This place is so intriguing and different to me. It’s only been one full week, but I am already feeling at home and more comfortable with the language. It can only get better from here.