This is the first time I have ever truly experienced culture shock and as scary as it can be at first, everyday things get a little bit easier. The little things such as walking everywhere or using the metro have become second nature to me. It has only been one week but I feel as if I’ve been here a month. Taking siestas most afternoons makes me sometimes feel as if I am waking up to an entirely new day. Not going out until past midnight and staying out until after 5 or 6 a.m. is so different to me because places back home close before I even leave to meet up with people. Getting around can be difficult and I have walked in circles numerous times just to end up somewhere that was down the street from where I started from. Ordering food from a menu can go very wrong very quickly and I am so thankful to be living in a homestay where my host mom, Cata, prepares three meals a day for us. I recently changed my phone and computer times to 24-hour clocks because that is what everyone uses here. When I first received my class schedule I wasn’t sure what time anything was at because 13:10 and 18:00 o’clock were unknown to me. But I learn something new every single day whether it’s a few new terms in Spanish or finding out that you don’t tip at restaurants here. As good as the no tipping thing sounds… do not, I repeat DO NOT ask the waiter to split your check. Madison and I made the mistake of doing that at a restaurant down the street from our homestay and you would’ve thought we murdered the waiter’s family he was so appalled at us.
I started school yesterday, September 19, which is almost a month later than everyone back at Arkansas began classes. While my friends at home are distraught over their first exams coming up, I am still recovering from jetlag and coping with eating dinner at 10 o’clock (22:00) at night. I have two classes Monday and Wednesday that don’t start until 4 in the afternoon and another two on Tuesday and Thursday that start at 1. It is safe to say that I have no complaints about my schedule! My school, Nebrija, is split up into two buildings, one with English classes and one with Spanish. Therefore I will be in the English building for three of my classes and in the Spanish for one. I had my first Spanish class today and it consisted of me and two other students. My other classes range from 14-28 people so it is very hands-on. The professors all seem very intelligent and understanding. Nobody has classes on Fridays in order to travel so that is yet another perk of studying abroad.
Madison and I have begun planning out a few trips coming up including Lisbon, Portugal this weekend. There is a group of eight of us taking an 8 hour bus this Thursday night and we will arrive around 4 in the morning. The cheap cost of the bus compared to a shorter travel time by flight was well-worth it and we figured this way we could at least attempt to sleep through most of the travel time. The weather is looking to be in the 80’s all weekend and we are getting a hostel right by a beach. In two weeks we travel with some kids from our program to Morocco where we will ride camels and sleep in tents under the stars in the Sahara desert. This past Saturday we went to Segovia, Spain, where we toured the city, castles and gardens. We will go to Salamanca in a few weeks for another day trip with our program along with Granada for a weekend. In November, Madison and I booked flights to Paris as well as Amsterdam, both around 100 euros roundtrip. The quicker we plan trips, the cheaper the cost so my calendar is filling up rather quickly!