Thursday, August 30, 2007

I'm finally in Spain!

El día primero:

Well, the first two days were kind of rolled into one considering that I’ve pretty much been awake the whole time. The traveling was exhausting. I sat in the airport alone for 3 hours until I found a person from my program and we spent the last couple of hours together, which made time go by faster. A seven hour plane ride doesn’t sound too bad, but it’s worse than you would think. It’s funny, though, we took off at 8:50, had dinner at 3am, had breakfast a few hours later and finally landed at 9:35am. It seemed like forever!
Today definitely had its ups and downs. After we got settled in the hotel, Gina (my roommate) and I went to the Plaza Mayor (the town square) and had lunch. Spanish food is so different I don’t even know what to order. Today I had un sandwich bacon con huevo – an egg and bacon sandwich. It tasted like breakfast, but is pretty much a staple for any meal. Apparently the main Spanish foods include meat and eggs. In fact, tortillas in Spain are omelets, not flat bread. Then we rested awhile before our program meeting. The jet lag didn’t hit until after I had a nap, then I couldn’t function until I had a coke. I had my first real conversation with the bartender at the hotel who served me my coke and Spanish olives (gross). We spoke Spanglish, but he was really helpful and patient with me and my Spanish. I almost missed the bus tour of Madrid because we were talking, but I did make it and Madrid is so beautiful! It is a perfect balance between classic unified architecture and industrial, progressive city. There are a lot of elaborate fountains and statues and such that add personality and culture to the bustling city. I didn’t learn much because my brain was exhausted from listening to yet another Spanish lecture, but tomorrow we will get a more intimate tour of a couple of the main attractions of Madrid – el museo del prado and el palacio real. More about that tomorrow.
I didn’t experience much culture shock today because it has not yet felt much different from the States. All of us program members have been speaking English to each other today because our bodies and brains so tired from traveling and from listening to three long Spanish lectures. We had to have a transition day, I guess. Tomorrow, though, we’ve agreed to try to speak more Spanish and less English. It gets so frustrating sometimes because of our lack of vocabulary knowledge. I feel like I absorbed a lot today regarding the language, though, and hopefully it won’t take long for me to be comfortable speaking to Spaniards in their own language. It’s really intimidating at first because they speak SO fast and it takes so long for me to process what they are saying and then respond. I’ll get the hang of it eventually.
My program friends and I finished off the night with a glass of wine and we’re turning in early. It’s about 10:45, not much time after dinnertime in Spain, but I am about to go to sleep. ¡Buenos noches!