Aside from a fairly mild—OK, it was pretty severe—case of homesickness a few weeks ago, I am only just starting to slightly miss what comes with living in the U.S.: convenience. I was definitely one of those hypocritical “Americans are lazy” people—you know, those people who complain that the U.S. has too much convenience and not enough quality stores or restaurants but then hits the newly developed local Target store for mascara, a pair of flats, and some milk and eggs (not to mention Starbucks and Pizza Hut for the ride home).
Not that convenience doesn’t exist here; it totally does! In Spain, the one-stop-shop is El Corte Ingles. With each location being somewhat different, you can find drugstore and high-end cosmetics on the floor above women’s shoes, which just so happens to be the floor above the supermarket. Besides El Corte Ingles, there isn’t much that an American would consider “convenient.”
The first thing I honestly thought I would miss a lot more is coffee from Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks. My obsession expanded over the years to even having the apps I can add money to in order to receive coupons and free coffee every couple drinks (trust me, so worth it!). However, Spain has an endless supply of cafes con leche and amazing variations of the drink college students and young professionals love so much. While I wish an iced coffee was more common, my daily intake of cafes con leche has led me to the point of endless love for the drink that only costs a Euro ($1.18 recently!) at the school cafeteria and elsewhere never more than two Euros. While I’m sure I’ll run to a Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts once I go home in May, I am 100% certain nothing will compare to the strong, decadent cup of joe I enjoy each day here.
The next thing I thought I’d miss is Target. With a Starbucks right in almost every storefront, it’s a coffee lovers’ dream to drink coffee while browsing through the different sections of a Target store; but, of course, this isn’t the only thing I miss. From $1 makeup to discounted iTunes gift cards every holiday season (seriously, why pay full price?!), the convenience of a Target is something I adore about living in the U.S. I actually brought a Target purse with me and have used it for everything other than school; perfect size for everything, including travelling to Germany to visit family, and has held up for the last month and a half. However, with El Corte Ingles and the inexpensive chinos stores – think dollar store but better quality – it’s hard to not find an alternative to, quite possibly, my favorite store back home.
The one thing every one of my friends asked me how I’d survive without is WaWa. Born and raised in Philadelphia, there isn’t a time in my life when I don’t remember a WaWa being within walking distance. It was always the preferred stop on the way to a sports game or before heading down the shore for the weekend. I’m actually pretty sure most of the breakfasts I ate during my senior year of high school were from WaWa. And let’s be honest, hoagiefest is a time of the year most tri-state area folk look forward to. With the different options of sandwiches – bocadillos – I don’t really have the time to miss WaWa as I’m eating tortilla espanola on fresh-baked bread.
The final thing that I actually do miss about home is the variety of food. Don’t get me wrong, I love the food I’ve been having and I have tried more than I thought I ever would so far, but it’s all actually traditional Spanish food. The only “traditional” American food I can even think of is the idea of fast food (implication: convenience!!!!), but the best part about the U.S. is the variety of food options, in my opinion. You can easily have your favorite Mexican spot, pizza spot, and, from a born-and-raised Philly girl, cheesesteak spot (hint: it’s not the tourist attractions of Pat’s or Geno’s). Not that these places are nonexistent in Spain, but they are definitely far and few between. Five girls from Temple and I ate at the local Mexican restaurant recently. While it did the trick for our Mexican cravings, it was definitely not the Mexican we’re used to back home (a.k.a. muy picante![spicy]).
Homesickness abroad comes in various forms, and for me, convenience has stood out. But, I have used that homesickness to fuel my curiosity for what Oviedo and the surrounding areas offer, fom the rich culture and history, to traditional cuisine, to Spanish tchotchkes that I might not see back home. So, there are things I kinda, sorta (but don’t really) miss from home, but by exploring as often as I can, I am learning to appreciate Oviedo’s strengths. I know I’ll have stories to tell to those I have missed back home and I’ll appreciate them even more upon return.