to adjust oneself to different conditions, environment, etc

If you know me… and especially if you know me well, you know that I don’t play with dolls.  Not because I have anything against them… I just don’t enjoy it. Never have.  As a child growing up I hated playing with dolls.  My poor cousin always had to play by herself because I refused.  For every Christmas or birthday I’d ask for a ball.  My poor mom was probably so excited to have a girl so she could do girly things… well sorry mom; I hope I didn’t let you down too much.   I don’t know why I’ve never liked it.  Maybe the creative part of my brain doesn’t contain the imaginative properties you need to create lives for all those fake disproportionate objects.  In any case, here I am.  I think God is probably laughing right now because he’s chosen two girls for me to take care of that are obsessed with dolls.  Like really,  obsessed.  I guess it’s normal, but for me it’s insane.  Every day.  Dolls dolls dolls.  Yesterday we counted 24 Barbies or dolls similar.  There is a house, a bike, a horse, a pony, more clothes than I own for myself, and they all live in one big box in the closet.  Ok and get this, they all have names!!!  How in the world can you remember names for 24 different dolls that all look the same!?  I’ve been given “Snow White” as my doll when I play.  Oh yes folks, I play.  Are you proud mom?  Every day we play.  And it’s not just English. These girls are creating lives for these dolls in Spanish!  Talk about difficult.  Yesterday I took Snow White and had her fall off the cliff… multiple times.  Clara’s doll would catch her every time.  She thought it was funny so I kept doing it.  Little did she know I was actually trying to kill the doll.  On the afternoons that Clara and I dance in the living room, Alba will take all 24 dolls and put them on the couch, organized as if they are in a theater watching us.  Its…funny?

If I didn’t know any better, I’d think that Coca Cola was invented in Spain.  It’s everywhere!  In every restaurant, ever café, every bar, every store… You either order water, an alcoholic beverage, or a coke.  I’ve never been too big on soda, I normally only drink water with my meals.  The dentist has always told me it’s not good for my teeth and I know that the high content of sugar probably isn’t the healthiest thing.  And I honestly didn’t put much thought into drinking soda until I came here.  I’m now faced with a problem.  To adapt and become fully Spanish, I feel like I need to start drinking coke!  Do I conform or do not.  That is the question.

Health is an interesting topic.  I don’t know if people here aren’t concerned with health or they just don’t know a lot about it.  For example, nobody covers their mouth when they cough.  Ever.  There are no seat covers in any bathroom.  I’ve seen more people leave the restroom without washing their hands than those who do.  Spoilable food is left sitting out for… way too long.  I saw the same knife cut raw chicken and then vegetables for a salad.  Get the point?  People are lucky that the health care is free here!  I’ve gotten sick about five times now.  I’m not worried about it, it hasn’t killed me.  But there was one day the family decided to take me to the doctor even though I didn’t think it was necessary.  I went using the mother’s insurance card and nobody said a word!  It was a children’s doctor too.  There were a ton of kids waiting all coughing right at me; at least that’s what it felt like.  The doc said I was ok and I just had _______ fill in the blank with whatever Spanish sickness you can think of.  He prescribed me with two different kinds of medicine.  I don’t know the last time I had a prescription especially for something as simple as a sore throat.  So of course I was hesitant taking the meds.  They were names I’d never heard of and I couldn’t understand the ingredients but because my host dad was watching I took that leap of medicinal faith.  I don’t know if the meds cured me or my body fought for itself but four long days later I was well again.

Just a side note. Clara has better handwriting than me.  She is 7.

When I came to Spain, I knew I’d learn all about cultural differences here but I didn’t know that I’d learn so much about culture in other countries!  For example in France, they only have a 36 hour work week!  China is just so different I don’t know where to begin.  In school the kids have to sit with their arms crossed on their desk and cannot move them.  If they have a question they are allowed to raise one hand, when called upon they stand up to ask their question, and then when finished, resume the arms crossed position.  My taxi driver friend is from morocco and is Muslim.  They have one month every year (and it changes each year) where each day for 12 hours they don’t eat, drink, talk to anybody, and more.  An entire month!

I’ve never been stoked on Halloween.  I don’t really know why.  I don’t really eat a lot of candy.  I guess when I was a kid I enjoyed dressing up and going trick or treating but as I got older I wasn’t allowed to go door-to-door anymore.  It turned into a big party scene.  Let’s see what little clothes we can wear but still look like we’re wearing a costume.  I mean, if that’s what you want to do, that is great!  But for me, well I just never got into it.  And then I got to Spain.  Halloween is a new thing here and it has gotten huge in the schools.  All the kids dress up and eat candy.  One of my Spanish friends Paco invited me out with them that night and because I didn’t have class the next day I decided to go.  And then he told me I needed a costume.  Shoot.  I spent that day with one of my friends looking for something to wear.  We finally decided to be Angels.  In Spain, the normal costume is something scary like a witch, ghost, vampire, devil, dead person, skeleton… but not an Angel.  We definitely got more attention than we bargained for but it was actually incredibly fun!  All the Spaniards acted like kids in their costumes and I even met another Sergio.  Although with him being a devil… I don’t know that we’re gonna work out.

I’ve been able to travel a little bit more.  I went with the family to visit Ávila and
Salamanca which are two cities about three hours northwest of Madrid.  We were joined by two other families each with two kids.  Thirteen of us.  One house.  One bathroom.  In the middle of nowhere.  Have you ever lived in a zoo?  Haha.  But the cities were amazing, so beautiful, so ancient, and so historical!  I absolutely loved it!  The oldest University in Spain is in Salamanca.  I don’t know if it’s just a tail but the wall on the school has some amazing designs and they say if you can find the frog, you get to pass your classes.  It’s like the last exam.  My host dad pointed it out to me and honestly I would have never found it on my own!  People lived so differently back then.  Eh?

You know that feeling you get when something finally clicks?  Maybe it’s in math class and you’re trying to understand the Pythagorean Theorem and all the sudden, you get it!  Or someone is telling you a joke and after the punch line it all makes sense.  Or someone is speaking directly to you in Spanish because it’s easier for them and at the end you realize you understood everything perfectly… yeah, that one happened to me.  It clicked.  I feel like I’ve taken a huge step in my progress here!   I still can’t speak as fluid as I’d like but I understand.  I’m adapting.


About sayadiosamerica

Hi. My name is Sarah and that is one thing that will never change. As for the rest of me, I've decided to dance life's tango. And maybe, just maybe... I will become Sarai.
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2 Responses to Adapt

  1. MJ says:

    LOL Great post!! I can only imagine your pain at playing barbies, but am so very proud!! Your post made me laugh. Please don’t adapt to their health practices though 🙂

  2. Charlie says:

    Hey Sarah, this is Charlie and I really enjoyed reading your post. I like your writing style. It reminds me of a famous writer, Erich Segal who I liked a lot. Well, come to think of it, I don’t know much of other writers. I also happen to notice you haven’t post since November. I’m not pushing you but because you write so good, I’m looking forward to seeing another post soon. and Happy Holiday! (well, everyday is holiday in Spain, right?)

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