Now that I am studying abroad for a semester in beautiful Madrid, Spain I am sometimes asked the question, “is it easier moving to a new country for the second time?” This question may differ from person to person but for me ,the answer is definitely no. Here are a few reasons why:
1. Completely New Culture
Going all the way from Northern Europe to Southern Europe is not just a big geographical change, it is a big cultural change. Living in Estonia, I got very used to the calm, quiet atmosphere of the people and the country. I was comfortable with the emphasis Estonians place on punctuality, personal space, and the necessity of a serene environment. However, these cultural ideals seem just about reversed in Spain. Upon arrival, I was a bit shocked by the sheer amount of people in this city. Often times you find yourself barely able to cram yourself into the busy subway cars. Unlike Estonia, the people in Madrid are loud, talkative, and extremely energetic. They stay up extremely late into the night with many people coming home from a night out at 7:00 AM when the first subway starts running. From not being able to find somewhere to eat during Siesta (Almost all the restaurants are closed from 3:00-5:00 PM for resting time in Madrid) to marveling at the beauty of the architecture in Madrid, I am definitely in a new world.
2. Americans, Americans everywhere
In Estonia, I was used to being one of the few Americans in the country and had a nice feeling of being unique. However, in Madrid almost half of the exchange students are from the United States. This is good in the way that I have people to relate to, however you just don’t learn as much about different cultures.
3. More Independent Living Situation
In Estonia, I lived in the international student residence halls which, even though a great way to meet people, was not as independent as my living situation in Madrid. Now, I live in a shared flat with five other people, commuting to the school, cooking and cleaning myself, and finding all the necessary supplies needed for the bathroom, kitchen ect. Even though I enjoy this lifestyle, it is definitely a big change!
Overall, even though I am starting over again in Madrid, I am really enjoying the new experience! It is amazing to be able to experience two completely different worlds in one year.