¡Bienvenidos desde España! I have been in Spain for a little less than a week, and have already experienced so much. Here is a quick recap:
On Thursday, I arrived early in the morning to the Amsterdam airport, then took a 3 hour flight to Madrid. After arriving, I took a bus to the train station in Madrid, a train to Toledo, and a taxi to the plaza nearest La Fundación, my school, before walking down a narrow street to La Fund. All in all, my trip from Chicago to my final destination was 24 hours! It would have been faster if I knew more Spanish, as I was traveling alone via bus, train, and taxi and this involved asking lots of questions to make sure I was in the right place and purchasing the right tickets. But, regardless, I made it to Toledo!
The next few days consisted of meetings to learn more about the program and a tour to learn more about the city. In the meetings, I met the 3 student coordinators (Paco, Miguel, and José Luis), the librarian and technology coordinator (Javier), and the housing coordinator (Mila). I can’t decide who I like the most! They are all kind, funny, and understanding of the fact that we are not native Spanish speakers. These coordinators talked to us about how classes work, what it will be like to stay with a host family, and important logistics about living in Toledo.
Along with these meetings, all of the students at La Fund were able to go on a tour of Toledo. We first took a bus around the outskirts of the city, where we stopped at a scenic overlook for the best view of all of Toledo. Then, we walked through the city, since most of the streets are barely wide enough for a car and could definitely not fit a tour bus. Our tour guide talked about the history of the city, and also showed us important places such as the bank and post office that we may need to go to while living here. I am still learning my way around the city, but certain landmarks are starting to look familiar!
My favorite stop on the tour was “Calle de Toledo de Ohio”, or “Toledo, Ohio Street”. It turns out that Toledo, Spain and Toledo, Ohio are sister cities. I was born in Toledo, Ohio, so this was extremely exciting to learn! I told the tour guide that I was born there and she explained that there is a glass vase in the cathedral here that was given to Toledo, Spain as a gift from Toledo, Ohio. I’ll have to find this vase one day!
On Monday, I was finally able to meet my host family. My “madre española”, Sabrina, came to La Fund to pick me up, and was confused when I tried to shake her hand instead of kiss her cheeks, which is the normal greeting in Spain. Whoops! Now I know. She took me to her apartment, which is bigger than I was expecting. There are 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a living room, and a kitchen. Later in the day, I met her two daughters, Jimena and Martina. Jimena is 7 and Martina is 3, and they are both very cute. Martina especially seems to understand that I don’t speak Spanish very well, because when we are together she often points to things and says their name in Spanish multiple times. Thank goodness for her! There is a bit of a language barrier when communicating with Sabrina and her daughters, but overall we have been able to understand each other. I can already tell that living with my host family will be a big help in improving my Spanish skills.
Well, that’s all for now! It has definitely been a week of ups and downs, but I’m already falling in love with my new city.