Updated: Mar 6
It feels like yesterday that I was on the Metro on my way to my new place in Valencia, Spain. I felt like I was part of a Telenovela story where I was the new boy in town who was ready to explore, make new friends and create drama!
At first, I didn't know that I would end up in Valencia.
When I got the chance to do an internship in my fourth year, I didn't mind where I ended up, as long as it was in a city where I could speak Spanish. I decided to go to Valencia after my internship interview with 2Learn Group because the CEO of the company made me feel at home; I felt like it could be a place where I could be myself and it was.
When I arrived in Valencia, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. But when I got there, I knew this place was what I needed. Wherever you go there is a park, mural paintings, or bazaars where you find all kinds of things. There is always something new to discover! What will make you fall in love with this city is the old town feeling, the architecture, the food, without forgetting the sun and the beach!
If you are thinking of visiting Valencia, these are the three typical dishes from Valencia that you must try, Paella, Arroz al Horno, and Arroz a banda. And one drink that you can’t leave without trying is ‘Horchata’; it’s a drink made of chufas (tiger nuts). Valencians like to have this drink as an afternoon snack with breadsticks to dip it into.
The main difference between Valencia and the Netherlands is the time of lunch break. Can you believe that I had a lunch break of 1-2 hours?! Here in the Netherlands, it’s only 15-30 minutes. One thing that made me feel at home was eating a big meal (‘cuminda cayente‘ as we call it in Aruba) during lunch hours instead of in the afternoon like in the Netherlands.
Because in Aruba we grew up listening and speaking Spanish from Latin America there are a few differences in words. For example, I grew up saying, ‘Vamos a trabajar', but in Valencia, they say, 'Vamos a curar'. Another one is that I call earrings in Spanish ‘Aretes', and they say 'Pendientes'.
Like the people in Leeuwarden, the Valencians also have their own language that is called Valenciano. When you arrive in Valencia, you can see on the posters that the information is written in two languages: Valenciano and Spanish. Luckily for you, my supervisor taught me some Valenciano. So, if you want to tell someone good night, you should say ’Bona nit'. And that friend is the only word that I know... #laughingemoji
Another thing that I noticed was that they have a tradition that reminded me of Aruba's burning of Momo or Momito to symbolize the end of Carnaval. In Valencia, there is a traditional event known as "Las Fallas, wherein in each neighborhood, the dolls (ninots) are built to commemorate Saint José (the patron saint of carpentry). It's usually a three week event with different activities such as flower offering (L’Ofrenda de flors) to Virgen de los Desamparados. During the last day, they would burn each one of Ninots to celebrate a new season.
Did I create drama?
Short answer: no. It inspired me to spend more time alone, be more open to new people, and stop selling myself short. The biggest lesson I learned is that going to dinner alone helps you connect with yourself. I used to think that people who went to the cinema or lunch alone are crazy and lonely. But that is not true at all! I am not going to lie when I went out for breakfast alone it felt weird, but mostly it felt like I was on a romantic date with myself!
Special Tips for you
To use Metro and Bus you can buy a Mobilis card at any Tobacco store.
Always be 5 minutes earlier at the bus stop because the busses usually come earlier than planned.
If you want to enjoy food from other cultures, you should visit Tia Juana (Mexico) or Restaurante Peruano Jofemar (Peru).
Fruit and Vegetables are cheaper at Fruteria's and luckily for you there is one at every corner.
In short, whether it is for study, internship or vacation you can't leave this earth without visiting the beautiful city of Valencia. Sometimes in life, you need to make opportunities for yourself by taking action. Don't be afraid to travel the world and fall in love with yourself!
Te veremos pronto Valencia!