What a relief.. I have survived my first day in Spain! It is just after midnight here but my body is telling me that it isn't even dinner time yet, hence my being wide awake (or maybe it's all the coffee I've had today..?). I don't mind too much though since I will get to sleep in tomorrow and I have a lot that I can do with my free time now: unpack, reorganize, etc. It's amazing how even after I packed everything so nice and perfectly laid out in my bags, I can't find anything in them now after they've been thrown around so many times in the last day. That's alright though, I'm sure everything will end up finding it's way to the floor anyway just like in my bedroom at home.
Today after getting off the eight and a half hour flight from Charlotte, NC to Madrid at 6:40 AM Spain time, I met up with my host family and went straight to the airport cafe and ordered a coffee. What I ended up with was coffee with milk and sugar that tasted very much like it does back home, maybe even a little better. What surprised me about it was the sizing, or maybe I should say how my host family perceived the size. When the barista poured it into the mug for me I was thinking that it was the perfect amount of coffee: just a little bit. So I found it pretty funny when my host mom & dad said something about how huge my mug of coffee was. I guess when it comes to Americans and their food/drinks, more really is more. We then went to downtown Madrid and did some sightseeing. What surprised me the most was probably how many American companies (or just companies that I recognized) had billboards, shops, restaurants, posters, etc. around the city. It made it feel a lot more like just another city rather than a whole new world, which is what I was expecting it to feel like. I was also surprised by how comfortable I felt being thrown into a place where everyone is speaking Spanish and I have to speak it too. Until I Skyped my parents about an hour ago, I hadn't spoken more than five words in English since my plane landed. Of course I don't understand every single word that is spoken to me, but I've been able to figure things out just fine. I think that that's pretty impressive for my first day in the country.
While we were still in Madrid, we ate lunch in La Plaza Mayor. This is the place that I was most looking forward to going in Madrid so I'm happy that I got to see it. The meal consisted of calamari, bread, potato omelette, a variety of meats, cheese, and olives, and water to drink. It was very different than the American food that I'm used to, but it was delicious! After lunch, we left Madrid and headed for "home" in Oviedo (northwest Spain). Five hours later (and a nap that I tried so hard not to take..), we were driving through the mountainous terrain that is Asturias. I'm not a very big fan of altitude changes, but that doesn't take away from the fact that
the scenery was absolutely beautiful! We ate dinner here at about 10:00 PM. (Spanish lasagna, bread of course, and melon with cured ham on it.. No I'm not joking about that last part!) I also gave my gifts from Wisconsin to my host family tonight (books of Madison and Wisconsin, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Starburst, and Godiva hot chocolate to the family, Badger T-shirts for the ladies, a Wisconsin Badger flag for my host father, Badger jersey for my host brother, and a quilt and American Vogue for my host sister). They were thrilled, so I felt pretty good about myself. After that they all went to bed and so now I'm sitting in my new room wondering if I'm ever going to fall asleep at a decent hour. I guess I'll just have to wait and see!