Well, it’s finally that time. The time to put down all my thoughts, experiences, and other stuff about my exchange so far in Spain. It’s been about 2 months now, so you can imagine that I have a lot to put down but I’ll try to keep it simple.
So let’s start from the beginning. It all started that wonderful afternoon when I got off my flight in Madrid and went to get my bags. As I sat at the baggage claim for around an hour and a half and saw the same bags going on the conveyer belt, I realized, where the heck are my bags with all my things? Well, I tried to ask someone where I could figure this out in the best Spanish I could make, and the nice man pointed the way…..straight to the exit of the airport. So there I was, with no bags, no idea where I was. It took about another 30 minutes to walk back to the entrance where I finally met a lady who understood English at one of the counters who happily said, “Oh don’t worry, your bags are already in Pamplona.” It was a blessing and kick in the chest at the same time. I think she saw how worried I was and so she gave me a free lunch voucher at any restaurant in the airport which helped dull the agony. So I went through security (again), had my free lunch, and went off to Pamplona where I currently am now.
Let’s fast forward to present day where I will now tell you all the wonderful and different things about Spain and Pamplona. I am currently living with my first host family in an apartment/house mix in a small neighborhood called Gorraiz which is about 15 minutes from Pamplona. Let me just say that the city of Pamplona is absolutely amazing. Everything about it, from the architecture, the food (Ohhhh the food), and the people is completely new and astounding.
Speaking of food, here’s a funny story. So I’m having dinner with my family one night and my mom puts this plate of meat in front of me. I took a bite and it was pretty good and so I asked, what is it? She said something in Spanish and so I pulled out my helpful translator app and typed in the word and it translated to bunny. BUNNY!?!?! How could I let myself fall to this horrible, yet very tasty act? But other than that instance the food here is nothing short of incredible.
For school, the journey there is fairly similar to the one I usually do in America. I get up, walk to the bus stop (not a school bus, a public bus) and take a ride to my stop where I walk to school. However the school day is a lot different from school in America. First of all, it’s 1 hour shorter (Hooray). The big thing though is that class schedules are much different. Every day you will have your classes in a different order, with some days having new classes and some days losing some classes. It was difficult at first but after a couple of weeks you get the hang of it. Let me tell you, that first day of school, I’m pretty sure was introduced, met, or came into contact with every single person in my school. What’s funnier is that a lot of kids tried to ask me questions or speak in English and it would come out like, “Hi…how you do? You want sit here by me?” I used a lot of hand signals the first couple of weeks but nowadays my Spanish is a lot better and feel like I can actually make long conversations with my friends and family.
I can honestly say that I have learned more Spanish in 2 months in Spain than I have with 2 years of Spanish class. Since I first arrived at school, I have successful completed my mission of achieving a group of friends including Kevin, Mikel, Jose, Tudor, and many more that I know but can’t spell out their names.
My experiences here so far have been fantastic and I love everything about Pamplona so far. I can’t wait to see what these next couple of months bring me but I definitely know that they are going to be great. Everything that Rotary has done for me to prepare me for this has been the best and I can’t thank them enough for allowing me this opportunity. Though it will be difficult at some times, I know that the overall experience is going to be worthwhile. I hope you all enjoyed reading about my experiences so far and I hope to share more of them with you in the future. Pamplona and Rotary Youth Exchange are both amazing journeys.
May 4, 2013
Wow, it’s been a while since I last posted a journal, and with everything that has happened since my last post, I figured it would be easier to sum it all up in a list. So, here we go
Since my last journal in November, I’ve actually switched families twice. I moved to my 2nd family in the beginning of December. My 2nd family was in a small neighborhood outside of Pamplona called Multilva, and for the time I was there, I had a blast. I loved Multilva because a lot of my friends lived there so it was a lot easier to hang out with them. My family was really nice, but they were also a really big family. With 4 daughters and 3 brothers, it was hectic at times. I travelled to a lot of cities in Spain with them, but my favorite would have to be Malaga. Malaga is in the south of Spain, and we went there during Christmas break. We travelled to Malaga on my first high speed train, which was pretty cool. After about 4 months with my 2nd family, I moved to my 3rd family (where I am now) at the end of March. My 3rd family lives in a small town about 20 minutes outside of Pamplona called Puente la Reina. At first, I was really hesitant to move this far from the ci ty, because I felt that I wouldn’t be able to see my friends or go to Pamplona as often. However, my family literally knew exactly how I was feeling and on the first day told me to not worry and that they would drive me whenever I wanted. In reality, this family is actually my favorite family of the 3. The town of Puente la Reina is beautiful and my family has really treated me like part of their family. We also went on vacation for spring break just outside the city of Barcelona. However, I still got a chance to visit the city and it was one of the most, if not the most, beautiful cities I have ever seen. I got to take a huge tour that took me across the city from the harbors, to the inner city, to the Olympic stadium, and to other places. I even got a chance to go to my first ever football in Barcelona and it was awesome. Since then, I have enjoyed my time with my family, and I’m looking forward to these last few months with them.
Honestly, school has gone better than I ever thought it would. Since my post in November, I’ve been able to pull up a lot of my grades and even participate a lot more in classes. I’m only failing 3 of my 11 classes in total, which is a plus in my book. Also, I’m even able to transfer my grades back to the United States which means I won’t have to repeat my junior year, which I’m really happy about. Besides that, school has stayed mostly the same.
Since my last journal, I’ve been to make a lot more friends and make better relationships with the friends I already have. I’m getting invited to more things with my friends and we all talk a lot more with each other in school. It’s sad that I only get to have a few more months with them, because they have been some of the best friends I’ve had.
Okay, I’m just set this straight. The weather in Pamplona is just awful. Not that it is affecting my exchange in any way; it’s just that the weather here is normally really bad. In all honesty, the weather has not changed since winter. It is the beginning of May and it is the same weather as it was in January. It is always in close to 40 degrees all day, and it constantly rains. Mix that with the freezing temperature, and you got yourself some nasty weather.
My language has definitely improved since my last post. I can understand people a lot better, and my main goal right now is to just learn more words every day. I’m able to talk with friends with ease now and I can even participate in answering questions in class. My language improvement has also helped with my grades improving and has helped me enjoy my exchange a lot more.
Well the food has pretty much stayed the same as it did in November, but my taste for food has adjusted to the Spanish culture a lot more. A lot of the foods I didn’t like in November are some of my favorites now. I also got in the habit of drinking a lot of coffee than I ever did (every day). I’ve also have started to eat a lot more salad (every day with lunch and dinner)
Regarding homesickness, I feel as though I never hit that point to where it affected my exchange in any way. While I obviously missed my family, it never reached a point to where I got homesick. I am starting to get sad over the fact that I only have a few more months in Spain. I really don’t want to leave behind everything and everyone that I’ve come to know over the course of my exchange, but I also miss many of the aspects of my life back in Florida. I’m looking forward to making these last few months count, and making my exchange that much better