The time here already has seemed to gone by in the blink of an eye. I honestly still cannot believe that I am sitting here in Spain right now! Anyways, I have a lot to share, so get ready!
When I first got to Spain, we landed in Madrid-Barajas Airport. It was about 9:30 am here. After going through customs and getting my luggage, I had to find the meeting point for all of the students. It was this cafeteria named “Eating Point,” and I thought to myself that it would be a breeze! Well it wasn’t. after 45 minutes to an hour of wandering around, it turns out I was in the wrong terminal (I was in terminal 4 and had to be in terminal 1), so I had to take a bus to the correct terminal. After that, I accidentally walked to the wrong side of the airport, which probably took about 20 more minutes of my time. I eventually got to the right terminal and found the meeting point, maybe about an hour and a half later. There, I sat with students in the group, and waited 2 more hours for our course director, Toñi, to come pick us all up. When she did, we embarked on about a 4 hour journey to Cáceres. It was incredibly surreal to think that I am now living the dream that I had to study in Spain since I started studying Spanish was actually coming true at this point!
We arrived in Cáceres at about 7, and were picked up by our host families. My host parents, Natividad (Nati) and Juan Miguel, are a very nice couple who have been amazing to me thus far! We ate at around 7:30, which is extremely early here (the earliest people usually eat around here is 9 pm). I was already faced with a challenge, as the meal my host mother served was rice with shrimp and chicken livers! I expected at some point that I would have to eat some sort of liver or other organ while I was here, but certainly not this early on my adventure! After dinner I pretty much just unpacked. The flat that they live in is pretty small, but it is also very nice! It has 3 bedrooms, a bathroom, living room, and kitchen. That night, I ended up going to bed around 11.
The next morning for breakfast (and every morning I’ve been here), Nati prepared me a meal of a chocolate-filled croissant with chocolate sprinkles, a mug of milk, and an apple. The milk here is very different. It is very thick, and apparently they have no worries with keeping it for much longer than we would, sometimes for a month or so.
Our group met up at our meeting point at 11 am, and we went for a walk around. We went first to a cell phone store for people if they wanted to buy a cheap phone for their time here or something, and then to the library to sign ourselves up. Unfortunately, when we arrived to the library, they were just closing for siesta (here in Spain, people will close up their shops for a while around the middle of the day for lunch and to go nap. It usually lasts from about 2 pm to 5 pm). So we instead went and checked out a little bit of the older part of the city. We went to this church, la Iglesia de San Juan, and it was absolutely beautiful!
Around 3, I went back to my house to have lunch and take siesta ( when Spaniards close their shops briefly around 2 to eat and nap, then go back to their days). We had this fish that was amazing! Around 6:30, the entire group met up again to go get coffee together. We met up with these two Spaniards named David and Natalia, who teach young children how to speak English, and are learning themselves. I sat with them and a couple other people in our group, and we talked to them for a couple hours about just about everything: politics, sports, TV shows, movies, cities to visit in our respective countries, you name it! It was really funny how we both tried to practice, so they would talk in English, and we would respond, or at least try to respond, in Spanish!
We returned to our homes to have a quick dinner at 9 pm, then by 10, we met up to go check out the night life! David and Natalia agreed to show us around, even though they told us that the night life wasn’t great on Fridays because students usually go home on Fridays. And yet, the bars and discos (night clubs) were almost as busy as an Ames bar on a weekend night! The first bar we went to, La Divina Comedia, was a cool place that sold racks of 8 shots for only 5 euros! It is crazy how inexpensive everything in Europe is. It was a very fun night!
The next day, we got to explore the city a little more. Toñi took us to a museum of modern art, which was incredibly strange and interesting at the same time. There was one part of the museum with drawings of only penises and poop. When David told me that most of these pieces sell for around 5,000 euros, I began to seriously question my career path.
We had pretty much free reign of what we did after that, so around 6 pm, I went exploring the old part of the city with Pierce, another student on the program and a friend of one of my best friends, Erik Nelson. This part of the city is all old cobblestone streets, and was so cool to see! Cáceres is a very, very old city, and it in fact is a place where the show Game of Thrones is shot regularly. We actually found a GoT-themed store, that had swords, crossbows, and other GoT memorabilia. We also found this cool bar tucked away into a courtyard. We all went out that night as well, and we actually got to take everyone to that bar that night!
According to Nati, Sundays are for resting. And today, that is exactly what I did. I slept in until 2 pm! After that, I ate soup for lunch, and then met up with a small group of students to explore the old town a little more. We found this church that for 1 euro, you could climb the towers in the church, and when you did, you were greeted by an amazing view of all of the city!
Overall, I can already tell that this semester is going to be amazing. Everyone in the group is pretty nice and fun, and we all get along. This weekend, I think that I am planning on going to Madrid, and I am very excited!