Arrival and Adjustment: When embarking on an adventure expect to be surprised

Saludos de Sevilla! It has been about 3 weeks (at the time of writing) since I touched down in Europe and I am pleased to say I have arrived safely at my homestay.

What a journey though! The flight itself was not as bad as I thought it was going to be. I figured I was going to get tired of sitting for so long. However, the flight attendants were so hospitable, I felt like I was part of a VIP club. Also chatted with an older gentleman from the U.K. who was a carpenter about finding time to create art after he had noticed me composing on the plane. I probably should have slept more on the way here, but I was too busy enjoying myself. Side note: Good Will Hunting is an amazing movie.

I nearly missed my connecting flight from Madrid to Sevilla trying to track down my luggage. Shoutout to the representative from Iberia that assured me my luggage was on the plane. Goes to show that asking for help is a great idea, especially when you need it. After a short flight to Sevilla, I got a little stuck trying to find a place to exchange currencies. I would have found one within the airport if I hadn’t gotten so worried about having to track down my luggage later. Unfortunately, ATMs just outside the arrival gate don’t have the greatest exchange rates. I managed to get a bus ticket to the center of Sevilla though after looking around.

Sevilla reminds me a lot of Mexico from the times I have visited my extended family. I guess it’s no coincidence because Mexico has been influenced a lot by Spain, from its public parks to its Spanish-style architecture. Plus, you get the same feeling that the city has been lived in, as it were, because of the advertisements and busy streets. Once I had my feet on the ground though, it hit me just how incredible living in a big city is going to be. I stood in awe of the giant buildings and abundant sidewalks that surrounded me. On my way to my hotel (because I arrived a day early from my program start date), I passed by what I now know as the “Jardines de Murillo,” or “Murillo Gardens” in English. That was when I first noticed them. The orange trees that pervade the city were the most suprising thing I encountered here. I couldn’t help but smile and stare as I walked under them. And they smell amazing!!!

Here is what it’s like passing under the orange trees
And here they are from a distance

As soon as I checked into the hotel, I collapsed on my bed, called my parents to let them know I was okay, and tucked myself in. I slept for about 14 hours because of how exhausted I was. As I slipped in and out of consciousness, I kept fearing what was to come. I was on my own now, with an entire ocean separating me from my parents. I would have to find friends, fix my class schedule, and adapt to a whole new way of living. Yet, I got the chance to explore a new world, live in a big city, and experience things I had never encountered before. It was terrifying but exhilarating at the same time. Once I had woken up and gotten ready for the day, breakfast was next on my to-do list. I am not sure how they cooked them, but I had the best eggs I have ever had in my entire life at that hotel. Iberian ham has also quickly become one of my favorite foods, and that is not even mentioning how refreshing the orange juice was.

When in Spain, make sure to buy Iberian ham

After I checked out, I picked up my luggage, exchanged my cash for euros, and began walking to my homestay. Pro tip: never grab the rosemary that people offer you on the street. Once I was let into the apartment building I was going to be staying in, I did not get a chance to formally say “mucho gusto” until we got in the tiny elevator fit for three people. It made for a pretty funny interaction as I had to shrink my body just to get everything to fit. I was expecting my room to be small, so when my host mom showed me to the room I was going to be staying in, I was pleasantly suprised. The room itself is slightly bigger than Wofford’s dorms, but it looked like the room was going to be cozy during my stay.

Actually transitioning into my host country culture was not too difficult. Sure, there are a lot of things that are different, especially meal times. Lunch typically happens around 2:00-3:00 pm and dinner is around 9:00 pm. On the one hand, I felt like I was used to this schedule already because of the similarity it bore to my family life. On the other hand though, nap time was such a welcome addition to my day-to-day! It is customary to take a nap if you so desire after 4:00 pm. For a college student that sometimes has to work later than usual to finish all my schoolwork in time, it was nice to be able to take advantage of this tradition.

There is so much to explore! I have already started a two-week intensive class to learn about some of the cultural history of Spain. It has been going great though the idea of a two-week class is strange to me. I am managing to find my way to CIEE’s student center where I am taking class. There are a lot of excursions coming up to different cities that my program has put together so stay tuned! I’ll be posting about each of these trips because each one is guaranteed to have something to talk about. Hasta luego!