10.06.2016 - 10.06.2016
Today began at 3:00am for me.
(I was not happy about getting up)
During the night I had a nightmare that I slept through my alarm and didn’t make my plane, so as soon as the alarm went off I was out of bed! I had to be as quite as possible since there were still other people sleeping in my room. I jumped out of bed and got ready quickly. My airport shuttle picked me up at 3:20.
We got to the airport about 3:45 and I was up and through security with my bag checked by 4:15. My plane didn’t take off until 6:15 so I had lots of time just sitting around. Once on the plane the trip was about 2 hours. I slept on and off during this flight. Once off the flight is where my crazy day began. From this point on Spanish is the main form of communication in my day… My first task was to find and get to terminal D at the airport. Not a hard task generally, but with an extreme language barrier it was not very easy. But I got there! Once in terminal D, I found the metro station (attached). Here, I had to buy a ticket for the correct metro! I tried my hope and wish that it’s simple method and went to the automated ticket purchase machine and found my hope and wish method doesn’t work so well in a foreign language. So I went and found a map of the metro lines and found the name of the station that I needed to get to. (Thanks to my wonderful Mom for looking this up for me in advance )
So I got onto the metro and then switched lines and got to my stop---where the bus station was located. At the bus station I had to buy a ticket (the bus for Cuenca, Spain left at 12:00 and I arrived at the station at 11:55…so sadly I missed that bus and had to wait for the one that left at 14:30 (2:30) But that was okay though because it gave me a moment to orient myself and eat lunch. I had to contact my program director and tell her I was going to be later than I thought. That was on ordeal just to figure out how to use the pay phone. Haha I don’t think I’ve every even used one in English. But I figured it out and then found wonderful wifi (it’s pronounced “we-fee” here) at a little shop that had delicious frozen drinks!
My bus left at 2:30 and about 2:10 I started looking for my platform (platform 3)… I should have started earlier because it took me a while to find and I cut it close! I did make it though and the bus ride to Cuenca, Spain from Madrid was about 2 and a half hours. They drive on the “correct” side of the road here but the country side looks much like Ireland did, vast and green- just not as many livestock dotting the hills.
My host mom met me at the bus stop once I got there- probably not too hard for her to tell it was me as I was practically the only one with light hair lol. I fit in perfectly in Ireland…here not so much, I stand out quite a bit…
She helped me get my luggage to her car and we drove back to the house. This town is built on the sides of two valleys. (This is the river that runs down the valley).
Therefore, the buildings grow up not across generally. Most homes (that I have seen so far) are apartment style flats. They live in a nice complex (4F). The house is nice it is a 4-bedroom 2-bathroom house with a living room, patio, and kitchen. I have my own room and am sharing a bathroom with the two girls (Sophia 16 and Jimena 13). I also have Wi-Fi in my room this time which is exciting to me!
Once we got home we attempted communication for a while. My host mom understands and speaks quite a bit of English I figured out, but won’t allow me to speak to her in it haha. She kept telling me something about other students doing something at 8:00 that night but that if I was tired I didn’t have to go (at least I think that’s what she said). I was tired and kinda hungry (I also figured out they don’t eat dinner normally until 11:00pm here) and I was feeling kinda weird. The same type of feeling I had in Costa Rica when I was dropped with my host family—except here I am totally alone. It is lonely to not be able to speak freely to the people you are living with. So I made the decision that I needed to force myself to go out and meet other students because it might make me feel better. My host dad got home and I had a very awkward moment. So here…apparently the way to greet someone is to do the two kisses on each cheek thing (I was not told this ahead of time) so when he got close I thought it was for a hug- very common in America… Haha it turned out to be really weird and I was told for quite a while how kisses are the proper way to great someone and hugs are NOT. Lol…whoops…cultural differences, here we go...
They drove me to the school next and dropped me off with the other students gathering there with a set of about 10 keys on a chain and a quick the house is that way (they point) you can make it back, it’s easy! …They are obviously unaware of my intense lack of directional skills… Anyway they left and I walked up to the students. They spoke English and were normal American students (and instantly my spirits lifted). One of them (Liz) is actually an NMSU student! The rest of them are part of a teacher led student group from North Carolina. (Similar to how I traveled in Costa Rica). Half of the group leaves tomorrow and the other half stays for another 2 weeks. So last night was sort of a celebration/ goodbye for them. We went for Tapas night- meaning basically we went to a strip and a whole bunch of different bars brought us drinks and food. It was free to me, and I believe any activities this big group does I will be included in so that is good! We had fun and I talked to the program director about how I was supposed to get home. She said Brooke lived close to me so I should just follow her home. Well, after the bars we ended up going back to Bobbies’ (one of the teachers or something) house for a small party. I was tired, but didn’t want to pull Brooke away on her last night out so… The party was so American lol, beer pong, drinking, chips, lol…I came all the way to Spain to be back in America… Anyway around 2:00ish I talked Brooke into leaving and she helped me find my house. I then had to go through all of the keys to get into the front of the building, then again to get into the house. I was super exhausted…I was up for 24 hours straight… I also lost my voice at some point during the night because of my cold, and literally can barely get sound to come out of my mouth.
Despite all of this, I am happy to be here and I am sure I will get more comfortable with my host family as time goes on and I think I will really enjoy hanging out with the other students during the day (although I think I’ll bow out before a late night party like that again).
Highlight of the Day: Walking up to a group of American students and speaking English for the first time in a day that was full of stressful, completely alone, necessary communication with strangers in a different language. It’s amazing how good it felt to speak English for a little while in a friendly environment.