Greetings from Segovia, the old Spanish city surrounded by medieval walls, dense with Romanesque Churches, crowned with a Gothic Cathedral that inspired the Disney castle, and renowned for the iconic Roman aqueduct which runs through the heart of the city. Though maybe most importantly, this stunning city is my home while I am on exchange at IE University, Spain.
About two months ago I left my warm Sydney home, my family and my full-time job for what I knew would be the greatest experience of my life – at worst it would be one of those experiences that you learn those invaluable lessons from, but at best I would not only be learning but cherishing every moment. And so far I am pleased to report that even though there have been those challenging moments, I am having the time of my life.
So what do you need to know about Spain and its people? Everything you’ve heard is true. Yes, they are full of life and laughter, yes they are loud and proud, and yes no matter what their age or situation they will party like it’s their job. After all, this is the country where wine is cheaper than water and the music never stops. Segovia, however, offers a unique interpretation of this vibrant culture – during the morning the city centre is bustling with tourists visiting to learn about the rich history, by early afternoon tumbleweeds roll as the siesta is observed, and from 9pm the town bursts awake with the laughter of the uni students who occupy most of the town centre. They begin the night with dinner and drinks, followed by bar hopping and then more drinks until the early morning. Still you will find the students back at uni the next day at 9:30am, ready to learn from some of the most successful professionals in the world. Lesson one: In Spain, you will learn to test the limits of the “work hard and play even harder” lifestyle.
The other thing about being in Spain… Everyone speaks in Spanish! Travelling around Europe, I was lulled into a false sense of complacency as everyone spoke some English. Though as soon as I arrived in Spain I knew that wouldn’t be the case! “Yo no hablo espanol” quickly became my go-to phrase. But “Esta bien”, it turns out that the Spanish are the type of people who will keep and communicating with a wide smile until, in some shape or form, they have registered the message. Lesson two: With determination, you can overcome any challenge, even if the determination isn’t your own!
And so I can’t wait to find out what the next few months have in store for me – I can’t wait to keep experiencing all the sights, sounds, food, and warmth of the Spanish people. Lesson three: “To travel is to live.” – Hans Christian Anderson.