A New Life, Beginning.....in Spain
If life begins as learning is met with great zeal, and learning is best achieved throughout the pursuit of life; then zeal is the vibrancy necessary for all pursuits, and my life has truly begun.
My name is Chaney Bryant, I am 38 years young, and I have a story to tell. I have been quite fortunate in my lifetime. I was born in San Diego, CA into a large family. As the youngest child, I quickly learned how to 'keep up with the pack,' a trait that has served me quite well throughout my pursuits. As a teenager, and at an age most atypical, I made lasting impressions on many working professionals of the Music Industry and began to forge a lasting career, of which, I am most incredibly fond. As a young adult, I continued to hone my skills as a professional in the Music Industry; starting as a musician, and moving into business administration and record production. All the while, my work has taken me to many destinations foreign and domestic. My love of, appreciation for, and attraction to travel and learning broadened my understanding of culture; language; history; human interaction and diversity; and thusly, continues to feed my desire for my very own personal enrichment. I am at my very best in new and uncertain situations. My decision to move to Spain, live with a host family, and fully immerse myself in Spanish culture (with little to no Spanish speaking experience)-- working as a Language Embassador-- Is. Just. That: new and uncertain.
I was placed in the Region of Castilla y Leon, within the Province of Valladolid, at the secondary school IES Emperador Carlos, in the city of Medina del Campo. Medina, I had learned, is the final resting place of Queen Isabel, and the very location she inked her Last Will and Testament. Medina was the first capital of Spain, then the Capitol was moved to Valladolid, the city center of the Province of the same name, and finally to Madrid. Medina del Campo has about 18,000 residents. I was happy to be placed in a smaller city because I knew it would be far more traditional in culture and heritage than a larger city, which is usually the case, when comparing towns to cities throughout the world. As it turns out, Medina is very "traditional Spain" in terms of culture, heritage and language.
Spain is, in three words; a Fairy Tale. I truly can ramble-on all day about the nature, landscape, architecture, storied history, culture, language, people, traditions, and the stereotypes of Spain. I spent as much of my free time traveling throughout the country to endulge in Spain. For travel enthusiasts, Spain does not disappoint, for many reasons. For those that require a very private life; expect disappointment. Spain is unapologetic, and this is an endearing and enduring quality!
Imagine walking down the street (hypothetically) in a suburb of a city in United States, and someone is approaching from the opposite direction. As you get closer and closer to this person, perhaps you consider moving to the edge of the sidewalk to allow room for them to pass, you exchange hellos, and continue on your way. Now imagine the same scenario in Spain; neither person yields or moves, shoulders bump, and neither person seems bothered by this, nor do they "apologize" for the bumping. Such situations in Spain are normal. It is not rude, it just is the way it goes down. I learned this quickly. I find this to be intriguing because I love people watching, and analysizing behavior. There is no reason to consider it rude, and there is no reason to apologize. People occupy space, and sometimes you bump. No big deal.
Imagine being at a restaurant (hypothetically), and there are only two patrons. There are ten tables available. One table is being occupied by the two patrons already there. My first instinct is to take a table the furthest away from the patrons. Maybe I don't want to seem like I'm listening to their conversation, or maybe I don't want to sit next to anyone. In Spain, I have noticed, that people will pick the table closest to the occupied table. This is normal. Eating is for socializing, and relaxing. It is not for avoiding people. I am fond of this. I, also, learned this quickly. A meal shared is far better than a meal alone.
I can only offer opinions, obviously, and I am no expert on behavior, but there are differences stark in comparison to that of which I am most familiar. I appreciate that. I think every single person should experience such things. In regards to Spain, I suggest to anyone not having been to go! The people of Spain have a wonderful sense of humor, and are very kind in general, and they will offer to take you places to show you the inside scoop, and if they invited you, they will pay. It is a sense of pride. Hospitality and sharing are a given. The levels of graciousness I experienced while traveling in Spain are remarkable.
In my case, I do not speak Spanish well. I am trying very hard. Spanish people tend to only hear what they are used to hearing, so, even a word said correctly, but with a different accent, will most likely not get through. I had difficulty, and I was very careful of this, and it made me try harder to speak Spanish with a Castellano tongue. I enjoyed this, because again, I was out of my comfort zone. Sometimes I was frustrated because I couldn't say things to describe my thoughts, but for the most part I learned more about myself, and how communicating well is critical. I learned a lesson about not getting away with poor speech, and how I can't expect the world to bend to my limitations. It flat out will not!
The history of Spain is a long and winding road. Travelling across the beautiful country will speak its history without using words. The architecture from the various time periods still stands, and are restored to vitality, so the history can be remembered and to remind everyone that it isn't always cafe, wine and jamon. The people embody this history with temperance and fortitude. Spanish tradition and culture is in their blood, and it is simple to see. From the food, to the wine, to the many specialized shops: Carniceria, peluqueria, cervezaria, zapateria, etc, etc, etc....Spain is proud. I am equally as proud to have experienced the beauty of all things aforementioned.