It's crazy to think that I've already been in Spain for two and a half months. But at the same time, it's only been two months? I'm sure that everyone has already said it, but life here has just become my normal life. Except it’s also so much more, and i'm so excited to tell everyone about it.
Starting at the beginning, the airport. Standing there with my family, hugging everyone goodbye, and starting this amazing journey all on my own was such a crazy feeling. It's hard to explain but you don't really realize what's happening. It all felt so surreal, I had just left my family for a year and I was on my own. It was kind of beautiful to see all my hard work in the past year (crazy applications, interviews, stress, essays, training, and visa paperwork), finally pay off. I flew out of the airport in Providence, Rhode Island because my family had moved right before I left. From there, I had an hour long flight to Philadelphia which was pretty easy. The airport in Philly was HUGE, and walking to my gate took FOREVER! Once I finally got there, I was so excited to catch the flight to Barcelona! This flight took about 8 hours and I actually got pretty lucky with my seats. I was in the middle rows of seats on the plane, where there's four in each group. The two girls sitting in the middle of this row switched seats, leaving an empty space. This made it so much easier to get some rest on the flight because now I had 2 seats to myself! Once I landed in Barcelona, things got STRESSFUL. I had to go through customs which wasn't too difficult, but afterwards I couldn't find my gate! I asked everyone but I was having a really hard time trying to find it. Eventually I realized that I had to go through security again, which isn't normal for a domestic connecting flight. (which is all I had done before that) For some reason they wanted to search my carry on which made it take even longer to get to my gate. Once I was through security, I had to practically RUN to my gate. By the time I got there, there was only 5 minutes until they started boarding. I ended up in the very back of a tiny plane for my last flight. Luckily this part of the trip was only an hour though, because it was such an uncomfortable ride. Once I landed in Alicante, I was so excited and extremely nervous to meet my new family. I went to the baggage claim to get my bags, but after they all went through, mine had never come. I was really scared, because I had no service and I knew my host family was waiting for me outside. I tried asking the lady at the desk for the airline if she could help me find them, and if I could use the phone to call my host dad. I ended up putting in a report for lost bags and met my host parents and people from my Rotary club which was really nice. I remember the drive home from the airport I started crying just from how stressful the experience was. Once we got home, my AMAZING host parents got in touch with the people at the airport and they had my luggage. I ended up getting it that day! While I was waiting though, my host mom let me borrow a bathing suit and we went to the beach, which i’m lucky enough to live right in front of!! (also September in Spain had absolutely perfect weather) I was so jet lagged that I ended up falling asleep for a couple hours in a beach chair. By the time I got home, my host dad had gotten my luggage and I was so relieved! The next few days before school started my host parents introduced me to a lot of their friends who have kids around my age, which was amazing because I would’ve never met my best friend at school if it wasn’t for them. I also started playing volleyball in a club and met some nice girls there.
School in Spain is pretty different than school in the US. At my school, on Monday through Thursday we start at 8 and on Fridays at 9. Then on Mondays Tuesdays and Fridays we get out at 3 and Wednesday and Thursday at 2. Here, people call their teachers by their first names. We still change classes during the day, but so do the teachers. This made it a NIGHTMARE to find all my classes the first week or so. Luckily, I have awesome friends with similar schedules that helped me find everything. School here is also a lot harder. Multiple choice tests basically don’t exist, all the questions and written response. Last year, I took online classes so I wouldn’t have to pass my classes here or try and get credit for my classes so it doesn’t affect me too much which is nice. School sports also aren’t a thing in Spain, if you want to play a sport you’ll have to find a club outside of the school.
Another thing that’s different about Spain is the times they eat. You eat breakfast when you wake up, and it’s usually small. Then at school during the break at around 11, people eat bocadillos, which are a little like sub sandwiches. Once you get home from school, you have a big lunch with your family around 3:00. Then dinner usually isn’t until 9 or later. A lot of people go out with friend and get something small to eat between lunch and dinner though. Speaking of eating, there’s some Spanish food I love!! Paella (obviously) is a staple here and it’s so good!! It’s a seafood rice dish and it’s beautiful. I also really like tortilla de patatas, which is basically like a Spanish omelette. Another one of my favorites are croquetas.
If you’re interested in Spain because you think you’ll get out easy with the language, that’s probably not the case. The two years of mandatory Spanish you have to take in high school are not enough, even if you did really well!! This goes for any country, but study your language as soon as you find out where you’re going!! This will make everything when you get here just so much easier!
Well I guess now I just want to say how much I love Spain! It’s so beautiful and I have so much more freedom here. I couldn’t drive in the US but here I have so much public transportation that I can get almost anywhere I need to go without asking for a ride. My host parents are incredible and I can tell they really want the best of me and want me to have a successful exchange. Also, I just want to thank my real parents for letting me have this opportunity because i’m already having such a great time and I there’s so much more that exchange will bring me in the future! I’ll attach some pictures down below so you can see how beautiful Spain is!! (and how much fun I’m having!)
Click HERE to read more about Gabby and all her blogs