After spending my last evening eating Chinese food and watching television with my family, I grew incredibly anxious and upset— knowing I would dearly miss my parents, siblings, and dog. I hugged my mother tight before I went to sleep and silently cried thinking about all the memories I would miss while away. I was scared.
Yet, the next morning when I woke up, I felt completely ready to go. In New York’s JFK airport, it was my mother crying instead of me as I waved goodbye to them behind the security line.
Hours later, when the plane landed in Madrid, I sniffled softly to myself and took a deep breath— knowing I had made the right decision. On Monday, all the students met at the Marriott Princessa which is a very historic hotel in Madrid. I was excited and for the day and a half that we stayed there, I was already able to meet people from my program who I found to be interesting and could talk to.
On Tuesday afternoon, I finally was able to meet my host mother with my flatmate, Becca. Pilar and her daughter, Belen, greeted us with two besos before we got into the car to see our new home. On the car ride, I already knew that it was going to be a perfect match between all of us. We had so much in common and I could tell that Pilar really cares for the students that enter her household. After organizing our rooms for an hour or so and resting, we had a great lunch with Pilar, Belen, and Pilar’s 25 year old grandson—Pablo.
The orientations have been focusing on various aspects such as cultural differences/shock, how to behave in a Spanish home, drinking safely in Spain (the drinking age here is 18), safety in the metro, sexual assault, and academics. The activities have been fun yet educational and usually the program members giving us information are very animated and patient with is.
Orientation with the program has been very informational, but also tiring. I wish we had a bit more free time upon arriving. As soon as I get home from learning about all of these topics, I just want to go to sleep. Not only because it is 6 or so hours of information after taking such a long and exhausting flight, but because it is all in Spanish and it is a little hard getting accustomed to listening to Spanish and speaking it at all hours of the day. It does have its perks through because I have already learned so much and I feel happy because many of the señoras and students have told me that I speak very well — almost like a native!
I am very content here, although I do miss my mom and my dog. However, I got to see my long time friend Kaitlin who is also studying abroad in Madrid this semester. It made me feel so much better to talk to someone really familiar.
The metro is amazingly easy to commute to school with, Becca and I get along very well, Pilar is very kind, and I like my cohorts. I am excited to begin classes, but I have to wait until next week to finalize them and begin to take them.
Although I may struggle at some point with missing home or with academics, I know that this semester will only provide me with great educational opportunities, memories to last a lifetime, and friends I will always be able to talk to!