La salida y el comienzo

I’m in Spain! After a stressful day and night of travel, I finally landed in Madrid yesterday morning and met up with the rest of the PRESHCO group. Although I’ve been in the country for fewer than two days, I am already discovering the wonders of Spain and can tell that this is going to be an excellent semester.

We spent the majority of yesterday on a train between Madrid and Santander, a small city on the northern coast. Here, we will pass the rest of the week with orientation and an intensive language course, plus some sightseeing sprinkled in. Santander borders the sea, so some of my new friends and I walked down to the beach to pass some time and splash around this afternoon. Tonight we visited an art museum called Centro Botin, and although there were no cameras permitted inside, there were some beautiful views of the city on the roof.

As I watched graffitied walls the Spanish countryside pass by out the train window yesterday, I noted the ways in which Spain already seems distinct from any other place I’ve ever visited. Once we left the city, scrubby hills rose up on either side of the tracks, and the sky darkened with clouds that sometimes enveloped the hills in a thick mist, giving the whole scene a mysterious appearance. Rainy northern Spain is certainly different from what I know to expect from hot, arid southern Spain, but it also looked nothing like any region of the United States I have driven through.

All of this is, of course, happening in Spanish. Only 24 hours in, I have already learned several new words like sandía (watermelon), torpo (clumsy), and derramar (to spill, after my soup ended up in my lap at lunch today).

Despite the challenges of immersion, the other students in my program are delightful. Nine in total, five of us are Wellesley students, so it was nice to have some familiar friendly faces around when everything else was completely new. I can’t wait to get to know everyone better during these next two weeks on the road!

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