When Culture Shock Hits

Authored by:
Alexandra K.

Alexandra K.

They say "Culture Shock" has four phases, the honeymoon stage, the frustration stage, the adjustment stage, and the acceptance stage. 

Currently, all the excitement has died down and I am in the frustration stage that switches between an unsettled nervous stage.

Within a short time frame I've been expected to set up a Spanish phone plan, open a Spanish bank account, contact and visit my Spanish school,

find my own housing with very little guidance, and gather all the documents for my Tarjeta de Extranjero. While I've checked off 85% of the checklist, there's still a lot of worry and I feel overwhelmed. 

While I've done lots of the initial stuff and feel like I'm ahead of everyone, I also feel more targeted than ever... just for being American. Being in Spain has been strange. It didn't feel real, 

until our orientation ended and then we were really all on our own. While I am in a relatively safe and boujee area, I don't feel as safe as a should yet, due to the language barriers.

As a recent graduate, maybe I regret not living with other American's who are fluent English speakers, but there was no way I was going to find the "perfect place" that had everything I wanted. 

Currently I live in El Barrio Salamanca, with a French male roommate, and two Spanish girls. It's been hard to get to know them due to the language barriers. In a place for 8, there are only 4 of us right now.

In terms of housing, my biggest worry is the mixed reviews on the place.  While there were some positive ones, majority were negative. I've heard of some crazy housing nightmares and while I doubt I will have any,

anything can happen. I already signed my contract for 10 months, so we will see how it goes.  Again, this isn't the States. While there are Erasmus programs all over, finding a flat that allows friends over, is surprisingly hard unless you

try to rent an entire apartment. Remember what I said in my last post, everything has trade offs, and everything has sacrifices. I think the biggest sacrifice I have made thus far is friends. I've dealt with homesickness before, and have

isolated myself in the past, but since orientation, it's been incredibly hard to make friends here, and find other English speakers. While I still keep in contact with friends back at home and people from my orientation group, I feel very out of

place here. It will all work itself out eventually..., however, this is going to be a tough year of highs and lows, and I wish there was more support. On a brighter note, I visited my school and I absolutely loved it. In the end that's all that

matters right? I came to Madrid for the year to Assistant Teach English to kids, while simultaneously receiving my TEFL Certification... and that's what I'm going to do. 


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