Thursday, January 13, 2011

1/8/11- Day 1

What feels like the never ending day finally comes to an end, thank goodness! I think I slept of a total of maybe 3 hours in the past 30 something hours. Jet lag better not haunt be or I’m gonna be very unhappy. Got into Madrid a little before 8am, before the sun even came up. Customs was easy and my luggage came without a problem. There were about ten of us on the flight from Philly. We all got our bags and headed towards the meeting spot to find Doctora Gala, the program director, and Javier the onsite director. Also, Doctora Gala’s husband, Paul a history professor at Wake, is here for the semester with us. We hung around the Madrid airport until a little after 12pm because we had to wait for all of the students to arrive before we could get on the bus and make the 2 and a half hour drive to Salamanca. 
The group waiting in the airport
Even though we were all zombies, Javier asked us to try and not sleep during the bus ride. Too bad that request didn’t work, almost everyone crashed as soon as we got moving. I woke up just in time to watch us enter the city and drive past the new and old cathedrals which are breath-taking.

Shortly thereafter we arrived at the drop off area to meet our home-stay families. With nervous butterflies we all got off the bus and one by one our names were called out to step forward and meet our families. Julia, mi madre, was there to pick me up. As I had told many of you she is 72 years old, but by here persona and liveliness you wouldn’t know it by looking at her. Noticing my ridiculous amount of stuff, she called a taxi to come and pick us up because it would have been a half hour walk to the apartment. Considering my exhaustion, I think that was the right thing. My hand, arm, neck, something would’ve broken off if I had to walk all the way to the apartment. I would’ve been miserable.

Ten minutes later we were at the front door of the apartment. It’s a cute little, or I guess not so little since there are 4 bedrooms, apartment. As I said there are 4 bedrooms, a bath room with a bathtub/shower, a small kitchen, a small dinning/living room, and another room with a sink and toilet that also has the washer in it near Julia’s bedroom. On the original housing sheet it said that there was a “41 year old hija” as well, but it turns out her daughter, Clara, is an English teacher at a school in Valencia and is only here on vacations. However, it is not just Julia and I in the apartment. There is also a Japanese student, my same age, staying here. Her name is Yuka and she’s really nice as well.

The first thing Julia asked me when we got to the apartment was if I was hungry, due to the jet lag I wasn’t very, but I thought it would probably be a good idea to get some food in my stomach so I said “un poco” and quickly she entered the kitchen to begin cooking up a frenzy as I unpacked and began to make my room into my own.
My room
Churros con chocolate
All the Spain tour books aren’t kidding when they say lunch or la comida/el almuerzo is a big meal. She served me first a large helping of cooked green beans, then bread, a salad of just lettuce (which is what a salad is here), pork cutlets and she also put out a bowl of fruit which after I couldn’t even finish the rest of the food I didn’t touch. At 6pm there was an optional meeting of the group in la Plaza Mayor, the main center of the city where everyone meets. We walked around the older part of the city towards the university and then ended in a small chocolate focused restaurant that serves a dish that Spain is known for, Churros con chocolate. The churros are not like the American churros we eat with all the sugar, but they are more like funnel cakes or doughnuts, grease and all, and the chocolate is a real thick dark bitter-sweet soup. It was sooooo good, but deathly rich and definitely not something I could eat every day. After the snack or la merienda, the group did another traditional Spainsh activity, “tomamos un paseo” we walked. We got a mini-tour of the city which ended back in la Plaza Mayor at around 8pm.
La Plaza Mayor
The majority of the group then went to purchase our local phones so that we all could be on the same plan and not have to pay per minutes to call each other only the initial connection fee. The phone I bought allows me to receive calls from the US for free, but for those of you interested in calling me, check your rates, it can be very expensive. If you wish to call me, I suggest buying a calling card, or the easier way to contact me is via email or facebook. But back on topic, after about an hour all of us had purchased our phones and went our separate ways back to our casas for la cena, dinner.

I can’t believe I made it through the day, but now I’m ready for a good night’s sleep, YES! Luckily I get to sleep in, yay! The plan for tomorrow is to explore the city a bit with Hannah and Jeff, two of my friends, and then there is a group meeting at 5pm. So far it is only a bit awkward to be living in someone else’s home, but I’m sure I’ll get used to it in due time. Julia has been great so far and she’s done this a bunch of times so I’m not worried.

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