‘Life in a College Town’ …

From Spain to a little town in the USA

By ALBA PARDO PASCUAL

Special to the Sun-Gazette

Will I fit in the USA? That was the first question that came to my mind when my university in Spain told me that I received a scholarship to study in the United States.

I didn’t know exactly where in the states I would end up. All that I knew was, that it would be a whole different culture.

My scholarship ended up sending me to Mansfield University. I didn’t know where Mansfield was, and nobody who I asked seemed to know either.

Honestly, I am happy right now that I ended up here in a little town where it is so much easier to become familiar with things than in a big city. Even though big cities have the advantage that, nowadays, they are full of people from all around the world, here I am the only Spanish speaker from Europe.

Immersing myself in a whole different culture was as interesting as it was tiring. At the beginning, I was all excited about the experience and willing to meet people, talk, interact, learn new things. But in a couple of months, I found myself searching madly for someone of my own culture who could understand my perspectives, the way I do things — and someone who speaks my own language.

Living here, I found some people really open minded and willing to help me and understand me, as well as some people who just didn’t understand me and didn’t even try.

I have to mention one of the things that I didn’t think about when I planned to come to the states, but definitely is something I struggled with — FOOD.

I am from the south of Spain. For breakfast I ate toast with olive oil, tomato and some fruit. Here I had to adjust my breakfast to scrambled eggs, bacon, cereal or — who knew — a burger or a slice of pizza!

I am a huge fan of pizza, but I remember the first time I went to have breakfast on campus and found pizza freshly made. I was staring at the pizza area thinking, “Is that real pizza?” I never saw pizza for breakfast before. I have been living in Spain for 22 years, and I never found one breakfast buffet that serves pizza.

In Spain our meals are “organized.” We have certain foods that we eat at specific meals. We can have pizza for lunch and dinner but not breakfast.

I find that here, Americans eat just what you want, no matter if it is breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Pardo Pascual is an exchange student from Spain who is attending Mansfield University.

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