Welcome to the first post of my study abroad adventure in Spain. Having just arrived in this country I am already overwhelmed by the splendor of the country, the Spanish, the locals, the food, the schooling, the jet lag, the daily eating schedule…shall I go on? That being said, I thought it would be best to list three foolproof methods of adjusting to one’s new surroundings when studying abroad.
- Be a plane old diva: As an Ellen Degeneres fan growing up, I would spend many afternoons after school curled up on the couch eating Ramen Noodles and watching my favorite comedian dance. There are many things I have taken away from that show, but the most influential to my travels has been advice from a guest whom I believe to be Sarah Jessica Parker.* I remember her clearly explaining to Ellen that she avoids illness and jetlag on planes by following a few simple steps….
- Drink lots of water (self-explanatory).
- Bring eye masks, pillows, meds, books, movies…whatever it is that you need to sleep when on a red-eye flight. Making sure you begin the process of adjusting to the local sleep schedule is important to get into the circadian-rhthym swing of things.
- Lotion your nose. This was the strangest piece of advice given, but apparently it can prevent you from becoming ill. The recirculating air of airplanes causes your airways to dry out and could cause the skin inside your nose to crack open. This could also prevent germs circulating in the air from entering these sneaky nose cracks! To avoid such horror, dab a little bit of non-scented lotion on the inside of your nose before you board the plane.
If all goes well, you’ll be able to wake up at your destination hydrated, slightly rested and with a soft, supple inner nostril—who could ask for anything better?
2. Breakfast isn’t always the most important meal of the day. In Spain, breakfast is usually coffee with toast and marmalade and perhaps a pastry. In the house I live in, only myself and the other host student choose to eat breakfast, and neither of us are loading up on food by any means. Instead lunch is the big meal of the day, served at 3p.m. while everyone is home for siesta (or at least is the custom in Andalucia). Due to the late lunch, some people eat their light dinner as late as 10:30p.m.—a time that I have been known to fall asleep at.
My usual breakfast at home is an apple, oatmeal, granola, almonds, almond butter, more granola and maybe a bowl of cereal. I like my breakfast—a lot. That being said, I have decided to take on the custom eating lighter earlier. I encourage you all to adapt to the eating habits of wherever you travel (and often you do not have much of a choice). Acquiring the new habit will lead to a lot of hunger pains at first, but you will eventually find that other culture’s eating schedules allow for more time to relax and enjoy food.
3. Walk the walk. If all else fails, get outside and get lost! Exercise and fresh air are always good for you, and can help you adjust to the time difference. Getting to know where you are staying is also a plus! I walked around aimlessly trying to find my apartment only to have to be escorted to it by the kind host-mom of a friend. Embarrassing? Yes, but now I know where I live.