Student Blog: Study Abroad in Spain
are we there yet?
by Stephanie Cook '12
After a long 36 hours of traveling, we made it to our final destination! The jet lag was tough on my body, but I was too excited to focus on my exhaustion.
Stepping out of the airport and breathing the cool European air was refreshing. Especially since we had a bit of a stagnant period at the airport after we landed and left the plane. One of the guys from Catawba could not find his luggage at the baggage claim! It got stuck back in New York City at the JFK Airport. Although this was a horrible situation, I want to give major respect to Art for not complaining once about not having his suitcase. He was totally relaxed and never complained once.
Finally, we boarded a large, air-conditioned bus and were driven to the university where we would be staying. We were the third group of students to arrive from the airport that day and got to the campus around midnight. While we were getting off the bus, a huge group of students in the program that had arrived earlier in the day greeted us with high squeals and yells. They were on their way out to explore the city. Even though we were all very tired, most of us ended up taking our suitcases to our rooms and immediately going out as well! I knew I was quite hungry and wanted to get some delicious food from a restaurant nearby ... anywhere that was not too far of a walk! After we ate, we darted straight back to the university and passed out. We knew we would have to get up early for breakfast the next day. It is only served from 8:00 AM until 9:00 AM so we did not receive the luxury of sleeping in and catching up on much needed shuteye. But we are in Europe, who needs to sleep? :)
There are kids from all over the United States staying at the university with our group. A few of the schools students are from include the University of South Florida, SUNY Binghamton, Sonoma State University in California, and Northern Colorado University. Everyone is taking at least one class to learn more about Spain as a country or to improve their Spanish skills. The levels range from beginners to native speakers. It is really neat to practice my Spanish with all of the new kids I meet each day. I met a lot the first full day that we were all in Madrid. We had an orientation for each of our classes and one for all students to attend.
After the orientation sessions were over, it was time to tour the city of Madrid by bus! Our tour guide was hilarious. Her name was Maria and she had the funniest jokes. She had very good English, so it was easy to understand everything she was saying about the city. The tour helped me learn Madrid a bit and gave me the opportunity to visit famous sights. It was a good learning experience.
The next day, we had another tour in Toldeo, which is about an hour north of Madrid. It is the religious capital of Spain. The city was absolutely gorgeous and filled with rich culture and history. We had the privilege to see and explore some very beautiful sights and shop at a local artisan shop. Items that stood out were the swords for sale. These swords ranged from all different sizes. A few people actually bought them; I know a girl who bought three! I wish her luck getting those on the plane! We went to a delicious restaurant in Toldeo for lunch and got a great amount of food for our money. For 12 euros, one received two dishes, a drink (anything from water to a beer), and a dessert! Talk about a good bargain. My food was delicious; the Gispatcho was refreshing and the chicken was tasty with its sweet sauce.
We arrived back at the university close to 5:30 PM and laid low for the rest of the night. We had to rest up for classes the next day. Sometimes I forget that is why I am here ... just kidding!
That is it for now. I will write shortly on how classes are going and give more exciting updates!
Until next time -
PHOTOS: Study Abroad in Spain