If you like to know all the details…this entire blog post is for you (mom). If you want the summary version, read the first sentence of every paragraph and look at the pictures.
(P.S. Español is the language that I am reading, writing, and speaking constantly…entonces…I’m going to put in some Spanish here and there).
On January 13th, I officially said adios to the United States por un semestre and started my journey to beautiful España. I left with six wonderful ladies from Cedarville University who have already been such a huge blessing on this trip. We met up in the Chicago airport at our gate which was filled with otros estudiantes de muchas universidades alrededor de los Estados Unidos who were also studying abroad en ciudades como Sevilla y Toledo.
The group from Cedarville.
With our tickets and passports and our plane to Spain in the background.
We began the long flight to Madrid. I sat next to Kailey (otra chica de la universidad de Cedarville) and a pre-med student from the University of Minnesota. We talked about studying abroad and our lives, tried to sleep, watched movies, and woke up for dinner and breakfast. I think that I slept for una hora during the entire flight.
We arrived at the airport tired, excited, and not exactly sure where to go. The entire ceiling of the Madrid airport es un arco iris enorme. It was an incredible feeling to finally be in Spain. Our passports were stamped and we found our way to gate K. The other girls had about a four hour wait until the next connection, while mine was nueve horas. I passed the time walking up and down the airport (which is under construction, so there is not much to see) and trying to stay awake. I ended up taking a five minute power nap in the bathroom and ordering a Coca-Cola to help me stay awake.
The rainbow ceiling
The dessert options at the McCafe McDonals in the Madrid airport. Just a little different than the U.S.
Finalmente, I boarded my final plane to Valencia. I found it funny that there was a real rainbow that stretched across the sky when I walked out of the airport up the stairs into my plane. I was so tired that I slept for the majority of the way. Looking out the window of the airplane at Valencia, all I could think about was la hermosa increíble de España. I made my way through the airport to a taxi, took my first taxi ride ever to the Institute of Spanish Studies, and waited for my host dad. During this time, I met some of the Spanish as well as English teachers at the Institute (Spanish classes are held in the morning and English classes are held at night), and read through different papers about Valencia and the Institute.
My host dad arrived and brought me to my new apartment. Aprendí como usar mis tres llaves al apartamento and spoke with him about life in Spain. My host dad is from Argentina and I am learning bits and pieces about his country as well. My host mom arrived from her job as una maestra de inglés and we had dinner a las nueve de la noche. It was so delcious. For dinner, we eat a salad with something light. Yesterday we had sausages, toast, and salad. This evening we had baked eggplant coated in delcious spices, salad, and toast. I say toast, but they call it tostada. It is a pre-packaged bread that is already toasted for you. We have it every meal, and I have it for breakfast with strawberry jelly and tea. After la comida (which is the biggest meal of the day, lunch) y la cena we eat fresh fruit.
My host parents are kind and hospitable. They are willing to answer todos de mis preguntas. (And I have a lot of questions). They allow me to use their house as if it is my own. The first day I asked my host dad if I could help with anything before dinner and he told me that I could poner la mesa. I did it tonight as well. I think that setting the table is going to become a tradition for me and I love being able to have a job and feel like a part of the family. They also asked me if I like to pray before I eat to which I responded yes. So, before every meal they give me a nod and it is time for me to pray. Tonight, I also got to clear the table. I enjoy dinner the most when we are all home and I get to hear stories about my host parents days and their lives.
Mis clases officially start tomorrow, but I have already spent a significant time at my new school. It is located in a small building about a 30 minute walk or 10-15 minute bus ride from my home. I have not learned how to walk to school yet, so I am taking the bus. I have successfully figured out, after getting lost on my own street (long story) y con mucho ayuda de mi madre) how to use the bus. Today, all of the girls from Cedarville as well as some students from another university in the States had orientation at our school with the leaders of the institute followed by an hour and a half tour of Valencia by bus con nuestra profesora de literatura. We saw nearly all of the major historical sites and by bus and stopped for a quick walk on la playa. I can hardly believe this is really the month of enero.
La playa bonita
Our teacher encouraged us to learn more of the city by getting lost and not shutting ourselves up in our room and saying we are too tired. (Which is why I am writing this blog post right before I head to bed). So, all of the Cedarville girls and a girl from another university met at 5 to explore the city. We started at our institute because as of right now it is the only place we all know how to get to and asked one of our teachers who is also does a lot of the administration and helps us with our home stays, to help us find a school to inquire about dance lessons. Algunas de las chicas quieren asistir a clases de baile. After a long time looking at a map with Isabel, we set out for the dance studio. Lindsey and Natalie asked about classes and we made our way from there to a mall by their apartments. We definitely had una aventura and it did take us awhile to get there, but made it to the mall.
I clearly stuck out as a foreigner as I ate my delicious pastry while walking around the mall (which was absolutely delicious in case you were wondering). We made our way back to our homes in time to have dinner around 9. It felt so good to finally go somewhere other than the institute on our own. We were challenged this semestre por uno de nuestros profesores cultivar un interés en algo nuevo. I’ve decided that my new interest is going to be map reading since I never would have made it to that mall without my classmates and it is a really important life skill which I will use to have many more adventures.
Every time I walk anywhere in Valencia I am astounded by the beauty that is around me. The weather is fantastic and the streets are lined with palmeras. Todos de los edificios de apartamentos son colores diferentes. The orange trees (which are everywhere, but the oranges on the city streets are not good for eating) are loaded with oranges right now. Mis padres me explicaron que ahora es la estación para la fruta en Valencia. I cannot wait to explore the city more.
I am enjoying everything that is in front of me and living each day to the fullest. Pero ahora es el tiempo dormir porque tengo un día con muchos clases mañana.
I have been keeping a small dictionary (thank you Kate!) filled up with new words I am learning. I’ll include some of them for you at the end of each blog post…
- abrochar…to fasten
- aprovechar…to take advantage of (an opportunity)
- zumo…juice (in Spain)
- escalera mecaníca…escalator
- indultar…to pardon
- enchufar(se)…to plug in
- filmar…to film *George Clooney and Hugh Laurie are currently filming a new Disney movie in Valencia and the set is at La Ciudad de las Artes y Ciencias.
- crucero…cruise ship
- (y mucho más)