As many of you might know, a few weeks ago I moved to Spain to start my Masters in Cultural Tourism and I really don’t want to look back. Even before I came to Europe, I knew definitely I belong here. I will be studying this Masters for a year. Six years ago I had the chance to study abroad in the USA (Miami to be specific). For us Puerto Ricans going to the States is just “going mainland” so, this is my first time actually living “outside US”
I decided to look back (even though I just mentioned I wouldn’t do it) to compare how different are my first two weeks in Spain from the ones in the USA and why I definitely prefer it here. These are my reasons:
1. Transportation and How Easy Is To Move Around
Living in Miami was painful without a car to move, as it is everywhere in Florida. I lived in the SW 107th Ave. If you know something about Miamian geography, you would know this is deep far in the west. All those fun and touristic places we know in the city are in the east coast. If I wanted for example, go to South Beach to have some fun I needed to take Bus #11 from the FIU South Campus. Bus #11 takes Flagler St. Completely until Downtown Miami. Without traffic, it takes an hour to do this. Once you’re in downtown, then you could take either bus C or S to get to Miami Beach. This could take 30 minutes without traffic (not counting waiting time in Downtown). Then, to go back to my dorm I needed to repeat the same thing.
Now, in Girona, Spain I can basically walk anywhere in the city, specially places to hang out and have fun. The city is totally walkable, and some others uses their bikes to move around. Public transportation works properly (even though I have only took the bus once to go to the university because I can walk there with no problem). There’s another thing we can actually compare: How easy is it to move to other towns? The easiest thing ever! I can get to Barcelona using the train in 38 minutes or so. I won’t even tell you what would happen if I tried to take the TriRail in Florida to get from Miami to Ft. Lauderdale, or the drama I lived when I couldn’t get to Orlando. Shame on you Florida!
2. People Is Looking Forward To Help You
When I lived in Miami I was lucky enough to have a Guardian Angel who used to be an old friend of my dad and she was always taking care of me, inviting me to her house and I definitely fel grateful I had someone like her. The problem is that most people wouldn’t be helpful but instead, they would look forward to actually compete against you. I lived it on the University and even when I went out looking for a job. People is always competing, and even more if they discovered you were Puerto Rican and they didn’t felt comfortable with that because they are Cuban. I lived discrimination in many ways while living in Miami, but in fact, I was lucky I had some guardian angels.
So far, here in Catalonia, besides some linguistic discrimination (due to the fact I don’t speak Catalan) people in the street try always to help you. So far, I made many friends and even my landlords have been the best so far!
3. No Frat or Sororities Parties and… NO FOOTBALL! (you know which one!)
For many this could be hell, for me is heaven. I must admit I suffered while living in Miami because I wasn’t able to adapt to party culture. I never felt comfortable in the club, or at the frat parties because it wasn’t what I was used to. Of course I went and experience them, but always ended up disappointed. Same thing happened with all the football cult in US Colleges. Never felt on my skin.
On the other hand, every time I have go out here, even when is not what I used to, I am actually able to find myself. I can always drink a beer, talk about my country, heard stories from other towns in Catalonia and have a good time with them, but nothing too hardcore. Nope, I have never been able to tolerate beer pong, which takes me to the next point.
4. Cheap Beer (or wine if you can drink it!)
I love the feeling of asking for a caña (a beer) and paying 1,50 euros for that. If I tried going out with my friends in Miami, I wouldn’t pay less than $4 for any beer (name the worst, and yes). For those who drink wine, this is paradise. You can get an acceptable wine bottle for 2 euros. Hence me that I can’t drink wine!
I must say I have been basically cooking all the time (of course, money saver!) but every time I go out, I get to try something even better. I have a deep crush with Patatas Bravas and Jamón Serrano. On the other hand, I would never said I ate bad in Miami. In fact, food was one of the best things I did while living in Miami.
It was in Miami when I actually get to try and fell in love forever with Peruvian and Colombian food. It was the place where I found the best Brazilian buffet I ever been, Camila’s! And I was never able to get homesick because in my same avenue, there was an amazing Puerto Rican Restaurant.
After thinking about how I lived in Miami and how I am living here so far, I must say I feel free here. My first two weeks in Miami I felt I was confined in a Campus (I actually was!) The way I can easily move from a city to another easily, without so many stress is definitely the fact that actually gets me.
I know for many people living in Miami is such a dream, for me, in many cases, was a nightmare. If someone asks me, I will always encourage them to live the experience, but definitely, I prefer Europe.