RACHEL ALLEN- This week I decided to take the obvious route and focus on our field trip to Valencia. Be prepared for gushing about rice, nice bus views and the beach. Everyone within a 20-meter (how European of me!) radius knows this, but Valencia really did remind me of Florida. Specifically Clearwater, FL. Valencia, Spain is the imaginary love child between Clearwater and Madrid. Needless to say, I fell in love with the city and I feel like I’m cheating on Madrid with my adoration for Valencia.
Valencia is a bit smaller than Madrid, but in my opinion that makes the city more inviting. Even though we were only there for two days, I definitely felt like I had a general understanding of the city. Not only topographically, but culturally. The buildings were all unique, ranging from historic to modern. The market had its own personality and I could envision myself shopping there every Saturday morning for groceries (meaning freshly baked cookies).
As much fun as the city of Valencia was, I think my favorite part of this trip was bonding with people on the program. Valencia helped facilitate and form these friendships. Allow me to be a good lawyer and present my evidence. One day in Valencia we went to the aquarium aka any college student’s dream. I was with a couple friends and would not stop talking about seeing the pingüinos. At one point I asked my friends Will and Emily, “Dad and Mom can we go see the penguins please please please??” Luckily, my friends allowed my ridiculousness and took me to see the penguins.
I found many ways to bond with people on this trip. A cultural difference that has affected me a lot here in Spain is that inviting people over to your house is not a thing here. And I know we are told multiple times on this trip, “it’s not worse, it’s just different”. But inviting people over to my house is the perfect way to seem like I’m doing something, but actually am being as lazy as possible. At Tufts, I would invite my friends over to watch hours upon hours of Netflix, and that was a 7.9/10 kind of day. Here in Spain, I watch Netflix all on my own and the only time I see my friends is in my dreams (definitely not true). However, we had the entire afternoon and evening free on day in Valencia. How was I going to use it you ask? Explore the city? Find the local hot spots? Nah. Two friends and I ate ice cream and potato chips for over an hour, talking about our lives. I can’t tell you how content I felt in that moment. To be able to just hang out with friends in a quiet something was something I didn’t realize I missed.
Another highlight of this trip was watching Spongebob Squarepants in Spanish. Here it is called Bob Esponja and I laughed at all the jokes. People on the program must think I’m a child, which isn’t an untrue statement. Once again, people able to lie down in bed with friends and watch a cartoon was a small victory in my life.
The paella in Valencia was an actual dream. I don’t even understand how it’s made so perfectly, but who am I to question magic? The bus ride was very long obviously, but I got to sit in the front seat on the double decker bus aka I fought people to the death for the front seat on the double decker bus. Also, I feel really guilty about that still sorry Becky and Kate. And finally, there was a beach with sand.
Valencia has been my favorite place I have visited in Spain so far, and I think it might be the reigning champ for some time. I am currently planning a trip to Granada in April, which might overpass Valencia. But don’t worry guys, it’s not a competition. Except it is.