This past week has been similar to a trip to a theme park underwater. It’s been confusing and different but also it’s been really incredible. I flew out monday evening. My flight was supposed to be at 7:15pm however around midnight we finally felt the plane leave the ground. Flying over Spain was surreal. I couldn’t believe what was going on, that I was finally here, that this is Europe.
After landing I was quickly whisked away to our few magical days in Madrid. Tuesday afternoon was filled with hello’s and lots of kisses on each cheek (how they greet one another). I met four other exchange students and together we took Madrid by storm. In around 48 hours we went to tons of shops, ate lots of tapas, went to El Catedral de Maria, Los Crytos, El Palacio Real (the royal palace), La Reina Sophia (modern art), had our first Paella, ate more tapas, went to the Prado Museum and somehow still had time to sleep.
On Thursday another student and I boarded a bus to Villanueva. The ride was five hours, however, outside the windows I could see the countryside and all the mountains and I beautiful sunset. (seriously. If you haven’t checked out my Instagram it’s filled to the top with pretty things: @themaddymj)
We arrived at night and as soon as I got off the bus I saw my host-mother standing there and she called my name and I gave everyone big hugs. After eating we drove to their home (which is gorgeous). Popi showed me the whole house and my room. It’s perfect and I could not be more grateful to them.
This brings us to today, Friday. I was allowed to sleep in. Then we went to a shop and bought me a phone I can use here, in Spain. Then we went to my school: I.E.S. Miguel Duran. Lucky for me the director of the school is also an English Teacher. She, along with everyone else was very welcoming. Two of her students gave me a tour of the school in English. Then I had my first class.
Now, I want you to pause for a moment and imagine this. It’s your first day, you don’t understand very much and you’re about to walk into a room full of excited teenagers. You walk in and the teacher introduces you as Maddy-saun (that’s how everyone pronounces it). Then a bunch of kids yell “HALLO!” then start clapping. Crazy right?
My first impression of school? Loud! In America the teacher speaks and the students only can when they have permission, right? Well in my first class as the teacher spoke… and so did everyone else. Kids yelled stuff out from behind me and seemed to be fighting with the teacher at times. Two kids got sent into the hall… I think? It was all very chaotic. Then class was over.
I tried asking the girl next to me where my next class was before she explained to me that we stay, and the teacher comes (something I had almost forgotten). Great right? Well, similar to the U.S. they have a few minutes between classes. My desk was sudden swarmed by over a dozen kids all introducing themselves and talking over each other. They were very kind which makes the fact that I can’t remember a single one of their names worse. Before they could burst my eardrum class began.
This class is probably going to be my easiest: English. It’s my native language! This class was quieter. From what I’ve gathered, it depends a lot on the teacher. (Whom by the way the students all call by their first name or nickname) They were excited to try out their English on me and I was happy with a tiny break from the Spanish.
I cannot repeat enough how welcoming they were: There were presentations for me and introductions. The teacher gave me a pack of lollipops as a welcoming present. (Lollipops are actually native to Spain.) Then my day was done. I only went to two classes but I’m glad to ease into it. Now I have all weekend to work on my Spanish.
I’ve met so many people this week and so many have greeted me with open arms. Everyone has been so patient with my broken Spanish and confused expressions. My host sisters are very kind and are helping me learn fast. Their hospitality and generosity are exactly what I need, being a foreigner. So, a “Muchas Gracias” to everyone who I’ve met so far. May we meet again and may I remember your name.