Spain Study Tour 2015: On Food, Conversation, and Comfort

October 01, 2015
Anna Nicola Blanco/ 3-AB Communication, minor in Spanish
If there is one thing I believe in, it is that life is made wonderful by three things: food, people, and home. Four weeks in Spain quickly taught me that no food could compare to the saltiness of jamon or the richness of pulpo; that there isn’t a people that love to live as much as they do; and that I could love a culture so deeply interlinked with my own, but so different and unrecognizable all the same. 
My days in Salamanca began with freshly squeezed orange juice and a walk down cobblestoned streets to our school, ISLA. It was near enough that waking up 30 minutes before class was common practice. Breakfasts were had at a small café across the school building, where laughter-filled conversations about difficulties in communication would always be the topic while we drank café con leche and munched on chorizo or tortilla de patata. I later realized that it was these daily conversations, the ones that have since melded together to become one pleasant memory, that I would miss most about Spain.

Lunch was a family affair—a table filled with girls from different countries and our Spanish parents. The food, in true Spanish fashion, was overflowing; there was no shortage of it, and each day would bring about something new and guilt-ridden for all of us to indulge in. It was at that table where I learned not only about Spain, but other countries as well. This, more than anything, is what I would come back for: the comfort of knowing people from a foreign country and the familiarity that is brought only by time. 
The three hours of siesta—the most beautiful word in the Spanish language for me—blanketed the city in relative silence. Shops closed. Cars stopped. People made their way to bed or to the park to spend some time under the sun. There is an enviable ease to this way of life, a kind of romance in the fact that their lives don’t follow any other pace but their own. 
After a lazy afternoon, dinner would come and go with no fanfare. This final meal was more of a necessity than a gathering. Nightlife began after dinner—at around midnight or later—where people would emerge from their houses ready for drinks and tapas while watching the latest football match at a local bar or simply chatting with people they had already seen earlier in the day. 
This is how it was, at least, for one month. And when we would wander our way back to our newfound homes, we would say that tomorrow would be another day for adventure, for tapas, for café con leche para llevar, and for conversations over guilt-ridden lunches until the time came for us to board the bus back to the reality we had left behind. 
“We’re never going to be in this place with the same people ever again,” said one girl as we sat around our favorite kebab restaurant mulling over how much time had passed since we first stepped on Spanish soil and how our little group had gone from strangers to friends so quickly. At that moment, none of us were able to comprehend how true her statement was. 

*photos courtesy of  Luke Anthony Santos