I have at long last arrived in
GETTING THERE: The day I exited the country. The trip over was too long for my liking. On the plane from Salt Lake to Atlanta I sat next to a guy who looked about my age from Mississippi and we talked through the flight, except for when I was sleeping [which was often, let’s be honest], but he was one of those nice, takes-care-of-you types, so he alerted me when they were bringing drinks and everything. Before that flight, in the airport, I saw Tristan, a girl I recognized from our prep class, so we waited before together and then walked off the plane together in
TUESDAY: The Three Kings Day. We didn’t see the bus [we weren’t actually looking, we weren’t expecting it until later] but we did see Sister Brown, our professor’s wife, who informed us that Tristan had been bumped from our flight and wouldn’t arrive until the next day. Being with her kept us all together and more people arrived over the next few hours but our bus did not. Unfortunately that was El Día de los Reyes, which is a huge national holiday in
WEDNESDAY: The day we got lost. Side bar on the weather: Everyone, Spaniards and students alike, have been shocked by the weather this week. It is unnaturally cold and a little bit miserable to be outside. But it’s not like I was just wrong about it—everyone keeps saying [in Spanish of course] that it’s NEVER this cold here.
We had orientation at Alcalingua [the place where we have all our classes] at 9 am and Irene had told us which bus to take and what time to go so at 8:30 we went down to have breakfast. We had Magdalenas, which are muffin-like and have made up our breakfast every day so far. We also had milk, which they don’t refrigerate here. It is apparently ultra-sterilized so it’s okay, but I’m not the biggest fan of lukewarm milk. We got on the bus [easy] and located the school without TOO much hassle. After a preliminary Spanish test we went on a tour of the city and looked at tons of important buildings of the
THURSDAY: The first real day of school. I went running in the morning because I didn’t have class until eleven, and as usual when I saw Paco he said “Hace frio!” That’s his favorite thing to say to us. They always want us to wear more coats and we want to as well but we only have so many. I rode the bus and walked the rest of the way to school without ANY trouble, which was a miracle, and sat through less than an hour of our History of Spain class, where all we actually did was talk about the syllabus and committees for the trip. After that we went to La Casa de Cervantes, the house in which he was born which is now a museum, and then went home for lunch. We rested a bit and then went to
FRIDAY: The day our whole group met to go into
SATURDAY: The day we slept without an alarm. At eleven I was awoken by Emmaleigh going to take a shower. We had received a phone call about an hour earlier about going to the mall and Emmaleigh and I both wanted some warmer, waterproof boots so we agreed to go at noon. We left without breakfast because we’re not supposed to open the fridge and took the bus until the end [we do that a lot, but this time we were supposed to]. I found some boots, a sweet turtleneck [thank goodness, I didn’t bring my awesome red one from
SUNDAY: The Sabbath. Finding the church by way of bus was easy, but it involved A LOT of waiting, especially on the way home. The busses on Sundays don’t run very often, but luckily the weather warmed up to about what we expected for January so being outside wasn’t too unpleasant. Church was pretty difficult to understand. I had trouble in all three meetings understanding the Spanish and it was pretty frustrating, but hopefully it gets easier as time goes on? There were a lot of beards at church also. When we got home lunch [lasagna!] wasn’t quite ready so we talked with Paco and Irene and I felt a little better about my Spanish. Most people are slower when they are talking directly to us, I guess. We napped and I read some Don Quixote.
Other things that I’ve noticed so far: there is lots of English everywhere: on signs, store names, music on the bus, everywhere. I wonder why that is, and I wonder how much people understand it. Our host family speaks NO English, but they are super friendly and really good at feeding us. All of the food so far has been really good, which I’m so happy about because I used to be kind of picky and I’ve heard some weird things about Spanish food. The only thing semi-gross was the octopus in the paella, which tasted like the ocean, but mostly it was just salty so it was fine. All they could talk about on the news on Friday was the snow, apparently it hasn’t snowed in four years. They’re really bad at removing it, also. And when slush freezes, it is just like sand.
I’ve really been enjoying myself so far. It didn’t take long to understand the bus system and know where basically everything is, so I’m satisfied about that. My Spanish is coming along, Emmaleigh and I rarely have trouble communicating with our family or people when we need directions, which is great because a lot of other people in our group have struggled. I’m really looking forward to the trips to other parts of