Goodbye Honeymoon – Stage 2 of Cultural Acclimation

I’m about five weeks in and my honeymoon with Spain is officially over. I feel terrible to say it and I wasn’t expecting to feel so disappointed, but really, I’m a little over it all.

How can I even be writing this?! Am I not in Andalucia? Have I not been dreaming about and working up the courage to do this for the past three years?! Seriously, Nina?

Yes. Seriously. I think it’s definitely a combination of factors, including learning how to take care of myself after coming off of years of being spoiled by my incredible family, but man are there things about this country that piss me off, including the complete lack of customer service, the utter inconvenience of simple things like public transportation, and a deep ignorance of the concept of “personal space.” Bubble popping wherever you go….

Now before people get their panties in a bunch, I’d like to acknowledge that it is different depending on where you live. (Though the three examples above seem to be pretty widespread). Spain has an incredibly wide variety of everything from city to city, region to region. The energy is different in every place. For example, while I really enjoyed Cordoba, I felt the vibe in Seville was different and I preferred it to Cordoba’s vibe. And while I love my hometown in many ways, I am someone who loves to be in a prettier area. My greatest dislike of New York is the gray on gray on gray. As a nature loving maniac who loves bright colors, I need all of that in my life.

But enough complaining. I’m here to write about the conflict that I am currently undergoing now that my honeymoon is over. I mean this is what all those travel books tell you, right? They list the stages of acclimation, and with few exceptions I’m sure we all experience at least a few of them. My conflict consists of a terrible feeling of guilt about how I feel right now, combined with impatience with myself that I’m not living in the present moment and enjoying the fact that I’m here, mixed in with a little bit of a yearning to get to my next grand adventure abroad now that I feel Spain isn’t the country I’m going to end up in. Vacationing in a foreign country and living in a foreign country are two entirely different things.

I don’t want to feel this way. I want to enjoy where I am, and I’m pretty sure I’m doing that to a degree. While it is terribly inconvenient to travel internationally from Linares, I’m still extremely grateful for the fact that I can fly to London or Germany for a weekend. Or that I can take a bus to Seville for a long weekend. There is so much to explore and this is my opportunity to do so.

With another pending international move next year though, I’m struggling to find a balance between immersing myself here and not overworking myself as I have done for years in New York, and working and saving enough for said pending move to a pretty expensive city. English students are coming out of the woodworks in hordes now and I always seem to have a problem saying no, to the point where I can’t find time to fit in the gym. Of course it doesn’t help that you have the giant hole that is siesta in the middle of your day.

So…how do I walk this line? How do I find this balance between living my daily life and enjoying this new and vastly different country? Do I take advantage of the lower cost of living, work less, and focus on music and writing more, since this is something that simply cannot be done in NY? Or do I take advantage of the amount of work opportunities and save up for my next big adventure? Is there a way to do both? How can I delve into Spain while finding this balance?

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