It’s crazy to think that this time last week I was still in America. My first few days in Spain seem to be going by with a weird mix of confusion, excitement, and adjustment. From the start, even getting to Granada was a test of my self-proclaimed “wanderlust” spirit. The flight from Seattle to Dallas was a breeze. After arriving in Texas and a quick 30 min layover, I boarded the flight to Madrid. But that’s where things took a turn. As soon as they fired up the engine, the back end of the plane, where I was sitting, started to smell like gas. Immediately after leaving the gate, the pilot got on the PA system and said that there was a problem with the fuel pump and we’d have to return to the gate to get it fixed. As someone who has a near-debilitating fear of flying, that was the last thing I wanted to hear. I told myself that the problem would be fixed quickly, but after being stuck on a airplane for 2 hours in the relentless Texas heat, I reached my breaking point. Let’s just say there might have been tears and there might have been 15 or so Spaniards staring at the crazy American girl in seat 39J. Classic.
They finally let us off the plane and 4 hours later we boarded another plane and took off. Once I got to Madrid I had missed my connecting flight to Granada, so some fellow students and I got to spend a glorious 8 hours in the K terminal of the Madrid airport. Silver lining: Spanish airports have amazing food. Like if you put American food up against Spanish airport food, Spanish airport food would win every time. Or at least 8/10, but those are still some pretty good odds. Sorry America.
I got to my host mother’s house at 12:30am (instead of 1:30 pm as originally planned), took a shower, and crawled into bed. Downside: I was traveling for 30 hours, upside: I beat jet lag without really trying.
Since then, everyday has been dedicated to getting to know this new culture, city, home, and school. The first day we were reminded of the contract we signed to only speak Spanish, and I was reminded of how little Spanish I know. I love to talk, so it’s hard for me to have to think so hard about how to say what I want before I get it out of my mouth. Even then, I know the verbs are conjugated incorrectly and I’m missing a lot of important words. And they use the Vosotros tense in Spain. I would like to thank all of my previous Spanish teachers who told me I’d never have to learn that tense- jokes on me, I guess. But I’m trying and I know that I’m learning a lot, slowly but surely. Yet, amid all the newness, I always feel lucky to be here. For every moment that I feel homesick or down about my Spanish, there are 5 moments that renew that “wanderlust” spirit that I mentioned earlier. Like when I find a surprise present from one of my best friends in my luggage, or look out my window and see the Alhambra, or get sangria after class with some new friends, or find a beautiful old house named Don Bosco in a Spanish town that is as beautiful as the place in Washington with the same name that I love so much. As my host mom says, “Es la vida”– and while studying abroad, like in life, there are bound to be ups and downs.