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Falling in Love with the Spanish Lifestyle

Every day since coming home, I think back on my time in Spain and I am filled with happiness. This incredible experience has encouraged me to grow and has helped me understand myself better in so many ways. I had such an amazing time during my exchange and I now have an urge to return to this beautiful country in the future.
After traveling for almost 24 hours, my host family and I jumped into our joint lives together. For the first few days, I did not allow myself to feel tired or jet lagged and I got caught up in this exciting new lifestyle. My favorite part of the whole trip was the excitement and intrigue I found in the subtle lifestyle differences that I experienced in that first week.
Every morning, my host sister Ana and I would wake up late and eat a breakfast of toast drizzled with olive oil and a mug of Nesquik chocolate milk. The weather would still be cooler at this time and I would usually take my breakfast out onto their apartment terrace with a book. Daytime passed slowly with Ana and I often going to the pool in the extreme Madrid heat and then returning to the apartment for lunch around 2 p.m. Together we would prepare lunch and then eat on the couches while watching a movie. Sometimes, if one of us was very tired that day, we would go back to our rooms and take a siesta or nap. The only time the heat was bearable was during early evening or nighttime. We often took the train into the center of Madrid around this time to meet up with some of Ana’s friends or go shopping on the Gran Via. When we returned home, dinner was served at around 10 or 11 p.m. and always a much smaller meal than lunch.
During my stay, I tried so many new and interesting foods. One night, late into my homestay experience, we hadpercebes for dinner. Percebes are a type of barnacle that are very expensive in Spain. Percebes look like small dinosaur claws and the skin has a reptilian feel. When they are cracked open, sea water is released and then the meaty part must be sucked out. They tasted delicious. But even with such a delicious taste, I could only bring myself to eat four of the small claw-like creatures because of their extremely strange appearance. I hope to return to Madrid someday with my family and have them try percebes as well.
My homestay was a life-changing experience. I am so grateful for such a wonderful host family and I hope to visit them again in the future. The city of Madrid will always hold a special place in my heart as well as the cultural differences that I experienced in Spain. Not only did I meet wonderful new people and try so many exciting new things, but I was also inspired to understand the Spanish language in its entirety. I look forward to continuing my Spanish studies and developing the characteristics and qualities of myself that I noticed while traveling Spain.
-By Hannah Mohtadi

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