Well, Spain has already been a roller coaster of emotions for me.
It all started when I legitimately started packing. At ten o’clock… the night before I left… which resulted in me staying up till 4:30AM. For all of those who told me I should have started packing at least weeks in advance, please feel free to say “I told you so.” Because you’re right. That was one of the worst things I have had to do for this trip. Being practical and wanting a lot of cute clothes to impress European boys are, for the most part, mutually exclusive events. I finally crawled into bed and woke up with the worst “I did not get enough sleep” headache EVER.
On top of the headache, I wake up and find my puppy (who’s old and infirm anyways and has been sick the past two weeks) COVERED in blood. So I freak out, thinking she’s dying, and frantically try to wash off the blood. Within ten minutes of waking up, I’m soaked, covered in blood, and bawling. Needless to say, THE MORNING DID NOT GO WELL. (P.S. da pup is fine. It was a minor issue that was bandaged and fixed.)
Packing done, puppy fixed, goodbyes said (which, saying good bye to Lily was harder than saying bye to my actual family members)… and I was off.
The flights themselves were not terrible, I just wished I had gotten just a wink of sleep. So I arrive in Madrid, grumpy and sleep deprived. But it was fine, I had a three hour layover that could be spent to my heart’s content. Wrong. I had to check-in for the flight from Madrid to Alicante and for some reason, an inept desk clerk claimed that I had not paid for my second checked bag leading to a fiasco that ended up in four terminal shuttle rides, talking to more than 4 different clerks, crying out of frustration and finally, making it to my gate 5 minutes before it started boarding. Needless to say, I was not impressed with my first few moments in Spain.
Dragging around luggage in 90 degree heat all day was not a pleasant experience and resulted in a sweaty, grumpy first impression for my fellow CIEE-ers. I was disgruntled with Spain and disappointed with the whole experience thus far. Alicante was not what I expected. Where I imagined palm trees and cool breezes, I saw desert-like fields and mountains and mountains of sand. I didn’t even see a wink of Mediterranean Ocean. I was dehydrated and ravenous and the hotel room failed impress. Figuring out my Spanish phone was miserable and my mom was freaking out about what was taking me so long to get in touch.
Then I realized, I didn’t even give this place 24 hours before I judged and loathed it.
I began to see parallels between Alicante and my previous travels abroad. Some of the Iberian scenery was similar to that of Vietnam’s. The Spaniards’ unabashed staring is much like what happens to me in Vietnam. A lot of small similarities made me feel somewhat more comfortable with the whole experience and is easing me into the next four months here.
There are parallels between CIEE and Wofford, too. Classes haven’t officially begun yet, but orientation shows me that the many dynamics between people at Wofford exist everywhere. We have the trio of fratastic boys that think they’re the hottest things to have hit Spain who started taking shots as soon as we finished dinner. The typical quirky, quiet types. The crazy girls who’ll drink 3/4 of a bottle of wine before dinner but are so naturally charismatic and outgoing you can’t help but enjoy being around them. I’m fitting in to my own little bubble here, much like the lovely bubble I have made for myself at home. (Tee hee, you know who you are.) No names shall be mentioned but updates and nicknames shall occur, I’m sure.
After nomming, heavily rehydrating (I risked drinking the tap water it was that bad), and making new friends over dinner, I feel much better now and have high hopes for da semester. Meanwhile, between the jet lag and the sleep deprivation itself, I am settling in for the night to write this. (I am such an old person. My first night in Spain and I’m in bed by 10:30. Just means more energy for tomorrow night!) Tomorrow, we shall take our first dip into the Mediterranean after a city tour, so it’ll definitely be something to look forward to. But I can still say I am just ready to meet my host family and get settled there so I can stop living out of my suitcase.
P.S. How goes my Spanish so far? Well. I can understand a lot of it. It’s the responding part that becomes the issue. Additionally, Spanish cuisine includes a lot of ham, guyz. But overall, has been very noms. I have reservations about falling asleep in dis sketchy bed though. Tee hee. Good night and tons of love from España.