Los Primeros Días

    “Travel brings power and love back into your life” -Rumi

¡Hola amigos! I am finally here! After months of planning, I made it to Toledo. The whole experience still feels like a dream, partially due to my lack of sleep and jet lag, but mostly because I can’t believe I live in such a beautiful place. It’s been difficult to speak in Spanish, but I can already tell that I am improving and becoming more confident. I feel like I’ve lived here for much longer than four days. It’s been an emotional roller coaster, but every day I become more excited and happy to be here.

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The trip to Madrid was rough. A group of us from the University of Minnesota flew together to Dallas, and then to Madrid. An incredibly long day with lots of time spent sitting in airports and on airplanes became even longer when the pilot made an announcement that we would need to make an emergency landing in Boston due to a sick passenger on board. Seriously? By this point, I was certain that we were outside of the US. We ended up sitting on the airplane for 2 hours before we could take off again. Finally, almost 24 hours later, we arrived in Madrid.

Together we took a bus to Toledo where we moved in and began our orientation process. I am living in a dorm room at my school, La Fundación de José Ortega y Gasset. I feel so blessed to have an amazing roommate and friend here, Bri. I don’t know what I would do without her!

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My roommate Bri in our shared dorm room

The staff and other students have been very kind and welcoming. It’s also nice to be in a program exclusively for international students and have others from Minnesota studying with me. It’s an adjustment to have all my classes in one building instead of having to walk miles from class to class at the U, but I like it (although I do miss the built in exercise!) For once, I don’t have to have one or two jobs along with a full credit load. It’s been nice but strange to have so much free time. Luckily it allows for more adventures, but I’ll definitely miss having an income soon enough!

La Fundación is in the center of Toledo, so it’s easy and quick to get anywhere. I’m falling in love with the city. It feels small and safe, but there are still unending things to see and do.

As I expected, Americans definitely stand out. We are often greeted with intense stares by people in the street or in shops. Unlike in the Midwest, it’s not common to smile or greet people you don’t know. My professor today reminded us that it’s not necessary to say “por favor” and “gracias” for absolutely everything like we do in the US. Even though our Spanish is rough and we’re the standard loud and obnoxious Americans that travel in groups, Spaniards have been very kind to us!

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Our first night out on the town and my first legal cerveza!

Yesterday, we took a walking and bus tour of Toledo. It was great to see other parts of the city and start to learn my way around. Although the tour was completely in Spanish, I was able to learn a little more about the history of the city. I’m looking forward to touring the cathedral and finding other gems the city has to offer!

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This weekend, we are traveling as a group to Madrid. Stay tuned for more details of my adventures! ¡Hasta luego!

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