I’ve finally made it! I left at 4:30 US central time on the 20th and I landed 2:30 EU central time on the 21st. It wasn’t a short journey, but it could have been worse. Perhaps the most excitement was at the very end of the trip. A small prop plane operated by TAP Portugal, when we came in to land at SVQ, we touched the ground and bounced right off! The pilot hit the throttle and we went around for another try. You could hear the tension, but it was reassuring to look over at the uniformed pilot seated next to me and never see him look up from his smartphone.
When I had finally made it, I met two other folks from my program, Bella, and Phoebe. We were given orientation packets, and student ID’s and put into taxis bound for our new homes. The ride was about 20 minutes and when I arrived, Paco and Alba were waiting for me on the curb. They took me inside: through the courtyard, into the building, up the elevator, and into the apartment. I was shown to my own room and bathroom and they helped me to settle in. There was also a massive, Spanish, lunch waiting for me. bean soup, a beef sandwich, bread, and fruit.
They helped me to settle in and learn the ropes. In my room, there was a book with words from many of its previous occupants. Unfortunately, they’re all in Spanish… but one day I’ll be able to read them, and maybe even add an entry of my own! The home is very modern. Washing machine (no dryer), dishwasher, lights and ac (although power and water are very expensive here), TV, fast wifi (pronounced wee-fee), Amazon Prime delivery, etc. I’ve been very impressed.
Later yesterday night, I got to meet some of my group. We went out for churros and chocolate. I have to say, a massive improvement over the American version. You dip the hot churros in hot chocolate. They were very good! After that, we headed home. I stopped by couple stores on the way to get some things I needed and was the first in the family to get home… around 9:15. (Although, everything here is in military time, so more like 21:15)
This morning, we went to take our placement exam and see the study center. In the process, we met the rest of our group. Everyone is so nice, and from all over the states and even one person from Bermuda. It seems we’re all at about the same level when it comes to our Spanish skills. Nada! We all have a lot to learn. After our placement exam, we went through a number of orientations regarding health/safety, logistics, living with a host family, etc. It seems like it’s all pretty straightforward and simple. A little factoid for you, healthcare here is free for all Spanish citizens, and the system is ranked 4th best in the world. The US is closer to 40. However, private hospitals still thrive. The speed is what people are after. Public hospitals may be free, but they are slow. Private hospitals offer speed and more privacy for a fee. As for the fee; a visit to a hospital for something routine, like a cold or an infection, will run you between 80-150 Euros $95 – $180, which is before insurance! A week in a private hospital bed ~ 1500 Euros. Overall, I’ve noticed everything is cheaper here. It’s great!
Tonight, we’re heading out for tapas and drinks. It should be a great time. I’ve had to get used to the different schedule. Medium breakfast, large lunch, siesta, and a small dinner late in the night. Things don’t shut down until late. 3 or 4 from what I understand. I can’t wait to see for myself! Wish me a good night!