Entry 1: Sunday, June 17th
Today we all woke up and went to the coffee shop across the street from our hotel to eat some breakfast before we left Madrid. We checked out at 11:00 and headed to the train station. Today is Father’s Day so I called my dad to talk to him. At this point, I just wanted to go home and be with my family. I was extremely nervous about meeting my new family and starting classes at The University of Santiago. I felt sick to my stomach the entire day. By around 3 p.m., we finally boarded the train. All of our nerves were shot and the train was two hours late. As soon as we boarded the train, it completely shut down. It was about 94 degrees in Madrid, and we were dying. Emily, Professor Wade’s wife, came by with a magazine and fanned us, which was very sweet. Finally, the train started working again and we were on our way to the highly anticipated Santiago de Compostela. This train ride seemed like an eternity, but the last few hours flew by because none of us wanted to arrive. We finally all arrived at the dreaded train station where we had to take two trips in the elevator. I was in the second group and by the time we got up to the top, the other girls had already been taken. We never even got to say good-bye to one another.
The lady who came to pick me up did not say a word to me except, “venga”, which means come. Everyone else’s host mothers gave besitos, which are kisses on each cheek. I began to get teary-eyed and wishing I was at home because, so far, this was not looking promising. She also got mad when we had to carry my suitcase up the stairs because it was heavy. Santiago is very small and not many people drive, so I had to pull my suitcase up the biggest hill to get to my apartment. By this time it was around 10:30 p.m. I was so nervous and so tired, and I felt extremely sick to my stomach. We finally arrived at apartment 41 and went all the way to the 6th floor. The first door on the right was my new home. When I walked in, I met my real homestay mother. The woman who picked me up I think is her daughter. The daughter left, and my mother gave me besitos and a huge hug. I literally had a sigh of relief and started to feel so much better. Next, I met Pilo. Pilo is my 33 year old brother. I am so excited, because I have always wanted to have a brother. Pilo is so nice and I am excited to get to know him. I also have my great aunt Lola. She is very nice, but is extremely old. My mother, Mariza Sierra showed me the house and my room that I will live in for the next month. I really like my new home, but it is very dark. My room is baby blue and pink. It makes me laugh, but it is very nice.
My mother had dinner on the table waiting for me at the bar in the kitchen. She made me my very first Spanish Tortilla, which is now my new favorite dish. It was delicious, and they were so happy I liked it. I then took a shower and sat on the couch in the TV room with my mother and Pilo. We looked at photos of my family and their family while she held my hand and rubbed my arm the whole time. At this moment, I knew I would be happy here.
Dinner and tonight was so nerve-racking and frustrating to me because I cannot understand what they are saying. The way they speak with the “theta” is very difficult to process, and they speak so fast. I feel so overwhelmed and nervous, especially since tomorrow is the first day at the university. Sleeping and living in a completely foreign environment is intimidating, but I know that I am going to have the most amazing experience to look back on.