Jennifer Michaud is a student at Worcester State University and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Valencia, Spain.
Cities often hold the connotation of fast living. Coming from the Greater Boston area, I am one of many who zooms down a city street, dodges fellow citizens, and avoids eye contact at all costs just to arrive to a place I probably don’t even want to go to. Everything we do is rushed, and our obsession with time and efficiency simply distracts us from finding value in our daily life. Though this realization used to linger in the back of my mind, it never prompted me to act differently. However, studying in Valencia has given me a whole new outlook on city life and how a different pace can make a huge difference for living in the moment.
When in Valencia, do as the Valencians do. What exactly does that mean? For one, slow down! Take advantage of the beauty in the city. One of the amazing things about this coastal metropolis is that its culture and history dates back to 138 B.C. However, it creatively progresses as a modernized city with remarkable structures that earn the city a fresh look. Everyone here seems to take advantage of the rich culture and futuristic atmosphere that this area has to offer. This can even be said for the ones who have lived here all their lives. After living here for a month, I can also agree that there just doesn’t seem to be a good enough reason to make anyone want to rush in such a lovely city.
Valencians take pride in the food they eat and the art of its preparation. This, of course, is rather a cultural norm for most of Europe, but it is fair to say that Valencians have a different twist to such a standard custom. When traveling to Valencia, it is a necessity to try new foods that are held with such high regards to the city. Valencians take a lot of pride in their customary dish, paella. The meal is cooked in a large pan, coated with white rice, vegetables, rabbit, and seafood. It is an extremely delicious plate that is crafted like a masterpiece and eaten with loved ones. When eating any food in Valencia, it’s normal to have long conversations with friends and family and to take your time. ISA took us on an adventure to a local farm to pick vegetables and cook paella. When it was finally time to eat, the lunch lasted two or three hours. As said previously, there seems to be no need to rush, even when it comes to food. Thank goodness for that!
Take time to do the things you want. In Valencia, people make time to do what they love, rather than cut it out to make time for stressful tasks. It’s a laid back city where people take advantage of living in the moment. Whether it’s making time for a jog in the park, surfing at the beach, or sharing a drink at a trendy restaurant, Valencians take the time to make each day worth living. Valencia even does so well as to produce this relaxing vibe the moment you enter the city for the first time. The daily Spanish siesta ensures that you have those extra hours in your day to take advantage of what and who you love. The locals know this, so try and adapt to this lifestyle as well.
No matter how long you plan on staying in Valencia, learn to leave your daily approach aside and adapt to a new one. Whether you’re from the city or the country side, there is something to learn from spending time in a city that spends more time appreciating life than catching up to a deadline. It’s the little things in life that make each day worth living, and if there’s anyone in this world who has a good grasp on that motto, it’s definitely the Valencians.
The world awaits…discover it.