¡Hola mis amigos!
It has been a little more than 24 hours since I landed in Madrid and made the drive an hour away to Toledo! Wow a lot has happen in such a short period of time.
The first day in Spain was long but amazing. We landed around 8:00 AM Spain time (aka 1:00 AM Minnesota time!) and after grabbing our checked bags we met up with a few of the program heads who brought us to a bus to drive to Toledo.
Once arriving in Toledo we got out of the bus and walked with our carryon items to the Fundación (there is a longer name for our school but this is the shortened version that people use because it is easier to say!). We checked in there and were divided into two groups: one group was students living in the dorms at the Fundación and the other was students like myself who would be living with families.
We had about an hour and a half worth of time to relax or explore because we wouldn’t eat lunch until 1:30 PM. A group of students and myself took this time as an opportunity to walk a little around Toledo and take a few pictures! We were careful to not travel too far because the roads are very narrow and close together- it is very easy to get lost!
We spent a little bit of time sitting in a plaza area and listened to some live music and people watched. It was a little funny because a friend and I were standing and a Spaniard walked up behind us and began speaking to us in Spanish. He either was asking if we could help him with directions or if we needed directions- but my friend and I were not yet accustomed or ready to respond- therefore he walked away once we shrugged (oops!).
Afterwards we returned to school for lunch and this was the point where I started feeling very tired. My friends and I had a good laugh about how we were all exhausted and nervous to meet our families and we just wanted to go to bed!
After lunch we had a short tour of the school. It was definitely a little difficult to listen and understand all that the man was saying because he was speaking completely in Spanish (obviously) to a large group of very sleep deprived students.
Finally, a group of students who would be staying with host families gathered in a classroom to get more information about the process. Shortly after we were placed into smaller groups of students who would live in the same area as us. I am living in old Toledo which is absolutely beautiful because this is the original part of the city and is fairly quick to get anywhere on foot here.
I was feeling extremely nervous at this point- I definitely teared up sitting in the classroom before being dismissed to meet my family. It is a little scary thinking about living with a group of people I don’t know in a country I am unfamiliar and speaking in a language that is not my native one.
The program heads introduced us to our family by announcing our names and then the family name and we met in the middle of a room. It is a custom in Spain for women to greet close family and friends by kissing them on both cheeks. Therefore, when I greeted my host mother Silvia I followed the custom!
Thankfully, the transition to my host family has been so painless and fun. My host mom Silvia is very nice, welcoming and funny. It was not difficult at all to start talking to her in Spanish and I am doing fairly well understanding her too. We had a short conversation in the cafeteria of the school and were offered coffee and pastries. I realized that Silvia was talking to another woman on the other side of the room and then she informed me that this woman was her mother. Her mom also has taken in a student! Soon the other student Ariel and my grandma Pilar joined us. The two women then informed us that they lived in a duplex together- the grandma lives on the first floor and her daughter (my host mom) lives on the upper level.
We then brought our luggage to my grandma’s car and Silvia walked Ariel and I to their home and did her best to explain the route… hopefully we can remember how to get back to school tomorrow! It is about a 10 or 15 minute walk.
Their house is absolutely beautiful and the decorating is gorgeous. My favorite spot in the house is definitely the open patio they have in the center, you can go and sit out there and enjoy the sun and there are lots of plants growing there- in winter! Once in the house they both did a great job explaining the different spaces and customs. The other people who live in the home include: the grandparents and their children (my host mom and her brother) as well as my host mom’s 2 children. They have a very sweet dog named Pocholo and a cat whose name I can not remember (I will have to ask once again hehe). Family is definitely very important for Spaniards and my host family has very close ties with one another.
I had a little bit of time to unpack my things and rest a little before we had dinner at 9:00 PM. Dinner was very good, it was some type of pasta dish with salad and fruit. Ariel and I ate with Silvia and her daughter Pilar (my grandma and sister both share this name). It was very nice to talk to both Pilar and Silvia and they are very good at explaining things in Spanish to us when we don’t understand. I am very thankful for their kindness and willingness to help us learn.
After eating dinner I went to sleep soon after. I am left feeling very happy and thankful for my host family and that the transition to living here has so far been very easy and good.
I will do my best to continue blogging important things throughout my stay here in Spain. I can’t believe that I am actually here and that this experience is going so well.
Until next time my friends!
Worry less and smile more.