Pre-Departure Impressions


Packing Photo

Departure is less than 24 hours away, and I can feel the pressure. I’ve got my second passport, completed my packing and only have a million things left to do! Packing wasn’t easy. 9 months in 50 lbs or less (plus carry-on’s of course!) It’s hard to think two seasons and 9 months into the future, but I managed!

When it came to packing, there were some hard decisions. Do I bring a heavy winter coat? Hard Copy books? 2 weeks of socks? What do I do!?! As you can see from my picture, I’ve been pretty meticulous about it. Luckily the internet is awesome! Monthly average temperature for every city, folding tips, even complete packing lists! I’d to thank the internet for inspiration.

I’ve had a huge host of feelings surrounding taking off. Luckily, the internet was there to help. In the last three weeks, I’ve met everyone! Facebook connected me and my host mother, Nieves. She and I have gotten to know each other, and my initial fears have been eased.  And guess what… I actually remember some Spanish! Who knew? Between my two years and the magical black box that is Google Translate, we were able to converse.  I’m sure I’ll laugh at myself in a few months looking back at how terrible my Spanish was, but who cares? I’m not hopeless! I can get by…. probably. (: I made sure to download the offline maps and language packages for Sevilla and most languages spoken in and around the area, so wifi or not, I will be able to get around and communicate.

After chatting with Nieves, I dove into her friend list and managed to find two young Americans that were both friends with her and with CIEE. Jackpot! I sent them both messages and crossed my fingers.  A day passed and I heard from one of them, and another day and I heard from the other. They had nothing but nice things to say about Nieves, Paco, and their grown daughter, Alba. They even told me about their rabbit, Peluso (hairy), although Nieves said, unfortunately, he recently passed away. The two girls gave me great advice in many areas. One thing they both mentioned was to be a good representative of America! Make sure not to come off as the stupid American tourist. (They also both mentioned how great of a cook Nieves is!)

With the wonders of the internet, I was also able to find their apartment on Google Earth and walk the neighborhood. Knowing what’s waiting for me once I arrive has seriously helped to ease the worry. I have even already signed up for a bike sharing program, so I should have some way to get around once I’m there.

Facebook has also connected me with nearly all the other students in the program. We’ve had a group chat for months and have been discussing with each other the whole way up until today. It’s going to be super cool to finally meet everyone in person! Speaking of, one of my fellow participants, Lindsay, joined the group chat a couple weeks ago and sure enough, we live 10 minutes from each other! Even better, she graduated from the high school I’m zoned to and we share a number of mutual friends. Even better… we share one particular mutual friend (her friend and my friend are siblings), who set up a 5th-grade graduation trip to Peru for both of them and their friends. Lindsay went on it one year, and I went on it the next! Small world, isn’t it? Anyhow, we met for lunch last week and hit it off. We’re both still in disbelief! I’m sure we’ll catch up more on the trip, as… you guessed it… we’re on the same flights! All three of them! I have to say, having a fellow Houstonian and especially one from so close, is making me much more excited for Spain.

Between applying for my Visa and second passport, packing, doing the first few hours of our global cultures course and generally preparing, I’ve been super busy! But, I have to report one more thing I’ve managed to do in these last few weeks: college applications! I’m proud to report that all of my essays and applications for the 2018-19 school year have been submitted! I couldn’t be happier to be heading to Spain without any thought of essays on my mind! It’s a feeling I never thought would come… but here it is!

T-minus 13 hours to departure. I’ve got to finish getting ready and go to sleep! My next post should be from Spain…. I CAN’T WAIT!!!

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P.S. Here is a great TED Talk I found and encourage you all to watch. He talks a lot about the fears, especially regarding safety while traveling. Enjoy!


2 thoughts on “Pre-Departure Impressions”

  1. Great Blog Riley
    I can wish you Luck, but I don’t believe you need it! Have an amazing adventure. Embrace all of the possibilities and allow yourself to grow. I look forward to following your journey.

  2. Great video! Wishing you the transformative adventure of a lifetime. Enjoy every minute, but don’t forget to call:)

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