May 14, 2013
Foreign language teaching assistants offer a unique perspective on Pacific University in a five-part series continuing today.
Lucas González Cebolla comes from Madrid, Spain, population of about 3.4 million. Living in Forest Grove, with its population of about 21,000 has been a change.
“I knew I was going to find a different place here,” he said. “I like it. It’s quiet. I really like the nature. It’s a good change.”
González Cebolla is one of five foreign language teaching assistants at Pacific University this year, here from Spain on a Fulbright grant. In addition to his responsibilities in assisting in language classes and hosting activities for students studying Spanish, he also has enjoyed his own introduction to the United States.
He has enjoyed hiking and sea kayaking with the Pacific Outback, and he’s intrigued by some of the transportation differences between the United States and Spain.
“It’s interesting how people rely on cars to move everywhere,” he said. “That’s something I wasn’t really used to, especially because in the big cities in Europe, like Madrid, we have really good public transportation … and we’re not that used to just driving to get groceries, for example.”
He also found this fall’s presidential election a contrast to his experiences at home.
In Spain, he said, “People would not be so much interested … they would never organize parties for who wins the election.”
Upon his return to Spain, González Cebolla hopes to go to graduate school, studying linguistics or international relations.
His visit to the United States has given him interesting insight into how people interact differently in different parts of the world — or even different parts of the country.
He said he’s found people in the United States more willing to talk to strangers, but he said they act like strangers for longer.
“I would say that we are warmer when we meet someone,” he said. “Even with friends, here it takes longer to hug people. We are used to kissing twice on the cheeks or hug when we meet friends.”
He’s also noticed differences on the East and West coasts.
“In general, I found people on the East Coast colder,” he said. “I think people here are very nice and much more welcoming. It’s always nice, when you are in Portland, for example, if you need to ask for directions, people are much more open to really take you to this place, show you how to get there. They are very interested in you and ask you questions.
“On the East Coast, it was completely different. They were like shocked that you asked them.”