Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Week One Complete!

Well it's been quite the adventure already.  In just one short week I have already experienced more than I ever imagined possible.  Here's a run down of my week in Pamplona, Spain.

My adventure started off with a real bang!  When I was getting my seat arrangements for my flight from Atlanta to Madrid, I asked if any upgrades were available.  (Kudos to my mom for the tip!)  They told me they were not designating seats yet and that I would be called up when it was my turn.  Well, I was never called up, so about 10 minutes before boarding I returned to the desk.  I asked again about upgrades. The woman at the desk told me none were available and simply handed me my seating arrangement.  I was confused when I looked at my ticket when I was boarding the plane.  I was actually in first class!  I had to ask the flight attendant twice if I was in the right seat.  To my astonishment I was!  I was given champagne while the other passengers boarded, a four course meal (while other passengers only received chicken breast or plain pasta marinara), and wine!  It was quite luxurous treatment, and it really helped to kickstart my European adventure!

I arrived at the Madrid airport around 9 am on January 9th.  Keep in mind that this was 2 am for me in my regular time.  I had to my luggage and get to the bus that was supposed to take me to Pamplona.  I had 45 minutes to do so, and came very close to missing it.  I ran around the airport looking for the right terminal and the right bus.  I walked around outside for well over 45 minutes trying to figure out where my bus stops.  (There's no bus station at the airport really.  Just parking spots for the buses.)   I was completely overwhelmed.  I couldn't understand the Spanish being spoken to me due to how fast it was spoken and the accent that I was not quite used to.  Those who did speak English to me, had no idea where the bus would go.  I was completely freaking out that I would miss my bus!  Luckily, an airport maintenance worker who spoke no English motioned to me and helped me find my stop.

My host mom is a wonderful women.  She is in her 60's and has four children.  One of her sons actually lives here at the house with her.  Neither of them speak English, but I could not have asked for a better home for my first month in Spain.  They are both extremely patient with my choppy Spanish, and sympathetic when I was homesick the first few days.  I have never felt anything but comfortable here.

There is currently only one other foreign exchange student here.  Ironically, she is from the same university back home.  It has been so nice having someone from back home here.  We are currently in two classes, a Spanish grammar class and a Culture of Spain class.  These classes will end in about 3 weeks.  My classes are mostly review at this point; however,  I feel that my Spanish has improved immensly in such a short amount of time already.

On Saturday, my friend and I traveled to Olite.  This is a small town about 20 minutes away from Pamplona.  The bus ticket was only 3 euros, and probably one of the best purchases I have ever made.  We spent our time in Olite touring a castle.  It was breathtaking.  There are no words to describe the sight from the tops of the towers or the incredible beauty of the castle itself.  The photographs I took do not even come close to capturing the real experience.  This short little trip just made me even more excited for the travels ahead of me.

When I walked through the security in Omaha and tearfully said goodbye to my family, I knew that I was about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime.  However, I was just not fully aware of what exactly I was getting myself into.  I know that I have only been here in Pamplona for 9 days, but in just these short 9 days I have already learned so much.  I am estatic to see what the next 6 months have in store for me!

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