It’s hard to believe that it has been ten days since I arrived here. The first week flew by pretty quickly, and reflecting upon how much everything has changed is interesting. In just one week, I have fallen into a comfortable kind of rhythm and awareness of my surroundings. I’ve deciphered the bus schedule, navigated the city center, memorized the layout of my university, and even applied for my transportation pass. For one month and 33 euros, I can use the train and bus as much as I need, which will hopefully prevent me from putting all my money into getting myself to all the different places here. Europe is beautiful, but it’s expensive.
To top it off, I plan on going to London for La Semana Santa (holy week) to visit Kaitlin. I think by that time I will be overdue for seeing a familiar face. The more her and I talk about it, the more excited I am for that time to come. We are going to see the Globe Theatre, and if we’re lucky, we’ll hopefully be able to catch a Shakespearean play. If not, we plan to catch one in a different part of the city. Apparently, there are theaters everywhere. I just need to book my flight, and I’ll get to see yet another part of the world.
This week marked the beginning of orientation. On Monday, we had a general welcome from Miguelangelo, the director of international programs, and a “Buddy System” program, where we split into groups to answer questions. It wasn’t the most interesting thing, but I met some new people from all around the world, which was a golden opportunity. In my group, alone, there were people from Turkey, Africa, Mexico, Peru, London, and Spain; Talk about variety. In Oswego and Buffalo, the diversity level is almost at zero, except for exchange students from Asia. We made friends with three girls from Holland, and it truly opens your eyes to the different perspectives in the world. At one point, we were sitting in the auditorium, and I was just listening to the noise behind me. There were people speaking Portuguese, Spanish, English, and Finnish. Now how’s that for culture shock? It was essentially like someone tossed a bunch of different civilizations into one room and blended them all together. I was so happy to be apart of it.
During a couple of programs, however, I got the chance to talk a little bit in Spanish. I will admit that my ability is still a little rough, but I can manage to string together conversation. Monday, I talked with someone from Mexico named Diego, and he told me that he was trying to improve his English. When he talked in English, however, it was incredibly proficient and made me a bit self-conscious about my Spanish skills. He assured me that I wasn’t terrible, which was nice. Then, today, I talked to two other people from Mexico, Lucas and Ali. Lucas didn’t speak a word of English, so I was translating everything that the lady was saying for him. He said that my Spanish was pretty good, and I couldn’t help but smile. It’s the small compliments like that, that diminish all my frustrations and assure me that I’m going to get better little-by-little.
Unfortunately, today I was ill with a head cold. I came back from orientation and slept for five hours straight! Conchi, my host mom, came up to tell us about lunch, and asked me how I was feeling. When she realized I had a fever, she tucked me in and ran to the store to get me some medicine. I’m so incredibly blessed to have a host mom like her! She’s such a sweet woman.
Hopefully I will feel better by tomorrow, because we still have another day of orientation and it’s Crystal’s birthday! I’d like to celebrate with her, so I’m going to try to get some sleep. On Friday, we have a trip to Toledo, and I’m pumped 🙂 It’s another city on my list of places to see, and I’m slowly chipping away at it. For now, I have to rest. Hasta luego!