As of today, it has been one week since I left. Let me tell you, it feels like I left a month ago! Although the week went really fast, there have been a lot of changes for me to get used to. I am going to try to paraphrase some good stories and tell you all about these changes I am experiencing!
First of all, I got delayed in New Wark, New Jersey. I was supposed to fly to Madrid on Friday night, but since my flight from Denver was 4 hours delayed, I missed my flight to Madrid. Flights to Madrid only go out once a day, so I was trying to get on the next flight. However, they told me I wouldn’t be able to get on until Sunday! So, I finally got a hotel room at 3am and began to prepare for my next few days in the New York area. The next morning, my parents went to the Billings airport and got me a ticket for the next day (Saturday), thank goodness. This was the flight my friend Juan was actually on, so I was able to hang out with him in the airport all day, which was fun (if hanging out in an airport could be fun). We played 5 games of rummy to pass the time, and the loser had to buy the last American ice cream from Ben and Jerry’s for 5 months. Sadly, I was the loser.
When I arrived in Madrid, I had to take a taxi to the hotel. It was about a 20-30 minute ride, and I was able to have a very nice chat with the driver (which built my confidence). On my way to the hotel, I talked to my program director who told me that once I got to the hotel, I should just clean up and rest, and then I would see them all at 9am the next morning. Keep in mind that I was arriving at the hotel at 2pm. Luckily, after an hour, the girl I shared a hotel room with came in, and she took me to a little cafe across the street from the hotel. This is where I made my first stupid mistake. Upon entering the cafe, I said “Cómo estás” to the waiter, a guy my age or younger. For those who don’t know Spanish, this is a very friendly way of saying “how are you,” and basically I was unintentionally flirting with him. Because of this, we got free tapas! We now know how the system works ;) When we were about to leave, I stood up right next to him, and he saw that I was about 4 inches or so taller than him… which intimidated him. We were laughing about it for the rest of the night!
Right now, I am realizing that it’s going to take a while to explain all that happened in a week. Anyways, we went to the parade for el Día de Los Reyes Magos (Three Kings Day), which is basically the climax to the Spanish Christmas season. The next day, we went to Toledo, which was so beautiful! If you have every been to Epcot, this is how the town feels. It feels as though it’s a giant movie set and couldn’t possibly be real (refer to my pictures). Also, everything was lit up for the last day of Christmas, which was really pretty!
The next day, we went to Granada, where I am living currently. When we got there, we immediately met our families. It was kind of funny, because each person would get called off the bus when their family arrived. Everyone was saying “I hope they like me!” It was probably the closest thing I will ever feel to the feeling of being adopted!
A little about my family. I am living with three generations. First, my host mom’s name is Esperanza, and she is about 63 years old. She is super nice and pretty patient when it comes to my horrible Spanish. Second is Esperanza’s mom, Trinidad. She is 90 years old, and I can’t understand a word she says! She is from a town with a different dialect than here, so my mom told me she uses different words than I am used to. However, she is super cute, and although I can’t understand her, I can tell she is hilarious! Sometimes she just puts her head down on the table and laughs. Finally is, my sister Laura, the granddaughter of Esperanza. She is 20 and is super sweet. She lost her mom 7 years ago to cancer, so she lives with her grandma. Also, she is learning English, so we made an agreement to help each other!
Ok, I am finally getting down to it. Life in Granada. Granada is different than I thought it would be. There is so much shopping, and I guess January is sales month. Everything is on sale (like 50% off)! Also, everyone walks EVERYWHERE. Today, I walked for about 3 hours. It takes me about 25-30 minutes just to walk to school in the morning (and it’s uphill). My legs are SO sore! Also, they eat very differently. Breakfast is very small, like a piece of toast and coffee. Lunch is huge! Sometimes bigger than American dinners and is usually eaten around 2-3 in the afternoon. This is a problem for me because I get super hungry at noon. Then, dinner is between 8:30 and 9:30 pm at night and is about the size of an American lunch. I didn’t struggle at all with jet lag (it’s an 8 hour difference from Montana), but my body is struggling to adjust to the eating schedule. On Wednesday, I took a placement test to find out my level. After taking it, I realized that I am a little disappointed with my Spanish education. For as long as I have taken Spanish, I know very little and can speak it very poorly. However, I am also learning that Spain has it’s own rules for grammar and uses it’s own set of vocabulary completely separate from Latin America. All in all, I think it’s a good thing I am here. Thursday, I started my classes for my intensive month. I have class every day from 10am-2pm. After 3 weeks, I will take regular classes. So far, I really like my professors – they are hilarious! Probably the funniest I have every had. I understand about 85% of what they say.
Ok, I think this is a pretty good start. I am going to try to post a little more about food and things that are different here than in the U.S. tomorrow, but I have to start getting ready for tonight. We are going to visit a discoteca tonight, which should be interesting. I am not sure if I am excited or not, but I figure I should at least experience it! I will let you know how it goes! Sorry if none of this makes sense.. I am going to try to be better about keeping up with my blog in the future!