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The University News

The Student News Site of Saint Louis University

The University News

The Student News Site of Saint Louis University

The University News

A New Experience in Madrid

One of the best aspects of studying abroad is getting to experience the ins and outs of a new culture. Spanish culture is extensive, and surprisingly enough, a large part of Spanish culture has Latin culture incorporated within, as the Latin population in Madrid is probably larger than you think. I got to experience part of Latin culture within Spain through taking a salsa and bachata dancing class, that I am here to tell you all about. I highly recommend delving into the culture of wherever you may study abroad, regardless if it makes you uncomfortable or if it seems weird. To me, the only way to overcome culture shock is to learn more about the culture you are in, and the best way to do this is through first-hand experiences. 

 

So, let me set the scene of my first-hand experience in order to reassure you that trying new things is always a good idea. Picture this: it is a Tuesday evening after classes, and Madrid’s center city is packed! There is a line outside of one of the popular clubs that stretches almost around the building. Literally the real-life example of the famous lyric, “Club goin’ up… on a Tuesday!”  But, the line is not to go clubbing. Instead, it is to go to a salsa and bachata dancing class. Who would have thought? 

 

Me and my friend get in the line filled with other young people and wait our turn to enter the club. We wait, and wait some more, then finally get to enter after paying five euros. It is packed inside! We push through the crowd to find a good spot on the floor where we can see the stage, where the dance teacher will be standing. The energy is vibrant and fun, and you cannot help but to talk to those around you and meet new people. 

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The instructor gets onto the stage and tells us to grab a partner. Since I came with my friend, we  partner up. We watch and wait as others get into their pairs. The instructor proceeds to introduce himself and tell us what we are in store for. First, is the bachata lesson, then time to practice and mingle, then the salsa lesson, and more time to practice and mingle. He runs us through about three steps at a time, and me and my friend (both of us who have no salsa experience) are trying our best to keep up. We practice without music first, then run through it a bit faster and then eventually with music at full speed. Apparently, we were doing a good job of faking it until we made it, as a girl behind us turned toward us to say to her partner “just look at them, they know what they are doing!” 

 

The night consisted of a lot of laughs, bumping, tripping and dancing. My friend even gets pulled up by the instructor to do the routine with him! The whole event lasted about two and a half hours, but the time flew by. As they say, time flies when you are having fun, and this is truly what it felt like. It was a fever dream of a night, yet one that neither of us will forget. 

 

It was so cool to take part in a new activity that neither of us had ever experienced before, as well as an activity that is a part of a culture we are not from. We met tons of new people, many of whom have continued to be our friends. If you really think about it, if you are already uncomfortable in a new place, why not do something else uncomfortable? You can only be so uncomfortable before that uncomfortable becomes comfortable. At least, this is my reasoning. All in all, I am truly glad I tried something new, regardless if it made me nervous or feel weird. I highly encourage you to take my word for it when you go somewhere new! Even if you still feel uncomfortable after trying the new thing, you now have a cool story to tell. What is the harm in that?

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About the Contributor
Jillian Privott, Online Columnist
Hey everyone! My name is Jillian Privott, and I am a senior with a double major in cultural anthropology and journalism. I love writing, talking to people, and making new connections - so I have had lots of fun being a part of Unews! I also love sushi, ice cream, working out, dancing, and Love Island (UK version only, though).
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