Friday, September 28, 2012

Weekly Update 1: Jetlag Edition

After a day (two days?) of traveling, I have finally made it from my home in Texas to my home for the next year: Spain.

Mountains of Cazorla, Spain
The mountains of Cazorla to the east of Úbeda
On Sunday, I spent the better half of a day in the skies, flying from DFW to Philadelphia to Madrid. On the trans-Atlantic flight, I was blessed to sit by none other than a fellow language assistant named Annie—what an awesome surprise! We hit it off pretty quickly, commiserated over how crazy the application process was, and compared notes on traveling and speaking Spanish. Once we landed, we stuck together through customs and terminal transfers and had a little breakfast at the airport before parting ways. It was really great to get through the most stressful part of the adventure with someone who spoke English and was doing the exact same thing. Our paths divided in the morning as Annie had to take the bus up north to Galicia.

On Monday (now on Spanish time), I took the Cercanías commuter rail directly from the airport to Madrid’s Atocha train station and got a ticket to the Linares-Baeza station three hours south of the capital. I had a few hours to wait, so I took the Metro into town and ended up getting some chocolate con churros (non-sugary churros to dip in a liquid chocolate drink) at a corner café. Yep, it was pretty cliché, but it was Spain!

I finally got an hour of sleep (my first since Saturday night) on the train. When it departed, we were in the middle of a flat, gritty, graffiti-d urban area, and when I woke up, we had emerged into a rural hilly area covered in olive groves. From the train station in Linares, I hitched a bus to Úbeda, where I found a hotel to stay at through Friday morning. The owners there were so friendly to me, the room was clean and comfortable, and the restaurant served really tasty local food. It’s also an agricultural museum, so the walls were covered with farming tools and artifacts. Úbeda is half an hour southwest of Villanueva del Arzobispo, the town I’ll be teaching at.

What I’ve been up to this week:

* struggling to stay awake at the train station

* mailing my absentee ballot

* getting a pay-as-you-go cell phone over the course of a whole day through the company Orange

* attempting to open up a bank account but failing—twice at two different banks—because I don’t have a foreigner’s identification number (NIE)

* wandering aimlessly across the city trying to kill time until lunch (2pm) or dinner (9pm) and then trying to find a place that’s actually open

* slamming my hotel door shut because it’s the only way to close it

* drinking Cola-Cao for breakfast (warm milk with powdered chocolate)

* eating loaves of bread every day

* taking my first siesta (it was great: three hours)

* meeting teachers and staff at schools where I will and won’t work at

* speaking Spanish and being told I don’t have an accent

* hearing Spanish and just smiling and nodding

* going back and forth between thinking about renting an apartment in Úbeda or Villanueva del Arzobispo (small town)

Talk to y’all next week!
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