Guest Post By: Junior studying Accounting and Finance, Noah Reyna. This Fall, Noah participated in the Universidad de Navarra exchange program.
My time in Pamplona is nearly coming to an end after a quarter here. Just a few weeks ago, I was itching to come home from Spain, but, as my departure date comes closer and closer, I realized that Pamplona is my home.
Yes, I was born and raised in Seattle, but I’ve come to know this city as a second home. The relationships that I have built here—whether if that is with fellow study abroad cohorts or those who own and operate small businesses in my neighborhood—have helped solidify that. I’ll admit, I first arrived in Spain more than slightly anxious, not knowing what to expect. The residents spoke Spanish quickly and the overall way of life was different than that I was accustomed to. Now, I know to expect the unexpected; I’m more easily able to adapt and improvise, both with the Spanish language and in general.
Although I’ve only been abroad for around 4 months, my friendships are ones that I’ll maintain for life. There’s something about getting flustered driving in France, confused about their driving directions with the French honking at you that’ll do that.
Before leaving Seattle, I wasn’t very well-traveled. Since my arrival in Spain, I’ve been to several cities in Northern Spain during the weekend, as well as several other cities in France and Norway. I’m not saying that I’m the most-traveled person, but I believe that these experiences—such as the chaotic driving experience in France that took me to the Dune of Pilat in Bordeaux—have helped form an important part of my identity that has allowed me to become more culturally aware and see how different countries operate.
I also realize how living here has also tested my values to an extent. I’ve been a vegetarian for nearly 3 years for environmental reasons, and while it’s not the most important value to have tested, I believe it’s still an important one to mention. An example of this is during one of my trips when I ventured to Cudillero, a small, picturesque fishing village outside of Gijón with one of my friends. Part of the reason that I was willing with travelling there was because I expected that the iconic Spanish tortilla would be available for lunch. But, all of the restaurants that my friend and I looked at didn’t have it, and I ended up having a side of goat cheese for lunch. Due to the sheer amount of vegetarian and vegan restaurants in Seattle, I haven’t been put in such a position before. So, being put in such a situation helped me realize that sustainability and the environment are some of my values that I’m not willing to compromise on.
Pamplona will always have a special place in my heart. The culture differs mainly from the US in that it is more slower-paced, with the siesta being a prime example of that. Participating in such a component of Spanish culture has allowed me to realize that that, even if staying busy is important, it is just as important to step back and take a moment to absorb your surroundings and appreciate what you have.
I’ll miss how during the siesta the parks are peacefully quiet, the strong coffee, and the overall way of life. However, I’m confident that I’ll return soon to visit my second home. The coffee alone is worth it!