I should say off the bat that I’m not a country girl. I know a lot of people think of the rural parts of Texas when they think of Texas, but most of the population of Texas still lives in the city, so I don’t know why the Texas countryside gets so much press. I grew up in Houston, so I guess I’m used to living in an urban environment that differs culturally from most of the rest of a given area. Exploring new cities has always been fun and engaging for me.
Ever since I started at the Universidad Internacional Menéndez Pelayo, I’ve just wanted to explore all of the neighboring cities. The classes here are challenging enough that it limits my time to explore the cities at least a little, but I can still definitely spend time doing so on the weekends, which is more than enough for me.
One of the great things about Spain is that it is so much easier to walk outdoors in a lot of the cities. In Texas and a lot of US cities, it really feels like they’re almost trying to punish you for not having a car, or at least for not using it right now. I really never got that impression in Spain. It really feels like they’re a whole lot friendlier with the tourists and with the students who are studying abroad, which makes a huge difference to me.
You always get a feel of the character in a given city. There are certain places to be, and great restaurants where everyone goes, and things like that. We tend to associate that kind of thing with the small towns. I guess that happens more often with small towns. I have a lot of relatives that live in small towns, and there are always a few places there that are more or less the life of the place, which doesn’t always leave a lot of room for other locations. That effect is still at least somewhat in place in cities, since you learn to avoid specific places and come back to other ones. However, with cities, finding the best places is like an adventure.
When I find a great new restaurant in a city, it really does feel like I discovered it, even if I technically found it in an online listing of the great places to go in Spain or someone at school told me about it. When I see a historical site that’s in a given city, it’s like uncovering that city’s past, even if the site is famous. Ever since I’ve been to school here, I really do feel that way almost all the time. It’s fantastic. I get more education than what I was paying for originally, which really makes all the difference.