It is hard to write a blog post about the month of September, because in order to do so I have to acknowledge the thought that September has already come and gone. How can it be? My first month in Spain, my first month at a new university, my first month living in an apartment…so many new and exciting things that I am just now getting used to myself.
I started this month after finishing an intensive Spanish course in a small beach town called Gandía. While there, I met about 100 Germans, 10 Italians, more Swedish than you would imagine, the rare French – and then of course the rest of us (that’s where I fit in). To explain where Oklahoma was, I had to say the word “Texas” more times than I would like, but besides that I enjoyed being from a place so far away. I don’t get to experience that sensation very often going to school in Oklahoma, and I think it has helped me realize how special home is. There is rarely a situation presented in the U.S. to explain your city, your state, your university – because most of the time that is information within your circles realm of knowledge. Oklahoma is completely alien to these people, so I have enjoyed getting to share with them the wonder of tornadoes, Native Americans, and really, really good Mexican food.
However, I want to focus more on Valencia than Gandía. Gandía was great and I made friends, but Valencia…I had no idea what I was expecting but I could not even begin to imagine this. I don’t know if it necessarily the city, or the lure of the thought that I get to call it home for the next year, but I am in love with this place. From the beach, to the historic center, to the park that stretches through the city…I could get lost here for months. There is so much to see and to explore and I feel so lucky to have the time ahead of me that I do. Today, I just went for my first run in Jardines del Turia and I discovered a whole new active sector of the city that I did not know before. The day before that, I took a bike ride home from the other side of town and when I stopped for a quick second, I found the historic center which was spilling with tourists. I found it quite funny that there were all these people from all over the world, rambling about in these streets that I did not even know existed yet. Tomorrow I will get to explore a different part of the beach than what I have seen so far. It is so exciting to have these pockets of the city to explore – some I will save for later, some I will never find, and some will slowly become part of my everyday life.
Another thing that I was not expecting was how addicted I would become to unfamiliarity. It’s almost like my mind and body crave it and I find myself trying things I have never tried before. I am so used to knowing what types of activities, people, situations, etc. that I enjoy that my first instinct is to follow that. But then, when I arrive to the deciding point I realize that’s not actually what I want to do, it’s just what I am used to. I wish that I had this inclination always, but I know it is always not so easy done as said when we are in our natural habitat. The people we surround ourselves know the path we follow, our feet know the streets we normally walk – and day after day we find ourselves funneled through the same routine. Not particularly “scared” to try something new, but the thought just doesn’t cross our mind often. Or at least, when it did mine, it was always overshadowed by preconceptions of what else I needed/wanted to do. It isn’t that way here, and I haven’t quite found out what that will mean for me, but in the moment it means studying French, taking a surfing class, joining a yoga studio. It feels good and I am curious to what else will come.