Extrañeza is the closest you’ll get to a Spanish translation of “foreignness.” But the best part of the word is that it embodies so much more than just that. In addition to foreignness, extrañeza can also be defined as the state of being strange, new, or extraordinary.
As I plan to move 3,500 miles across the Atlantic Ocean, I have promised myself that I will embrace both my own extrañeza and that of my new surroundings. This means acknowledging that just as I will find many aspects of my new life extraño, so too will my new madrileño neighbors find me to be extraña. I could allow this to inspire fear, anxiety and an elevated heart rate, but rather, I have chosen to embrace it and search for the beauty and excitement in the novel. As travel writer Bill Bryson once wrote, the best part of traveling is “to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” While I have previously resided in Spain for three-and-a-half months, and although I anticipate achieving a certain level of comfort and routine as I settle into my new life, I will work to take nothing for granted and embrace extrañeza every day.