Besos desde Sevilla!

After four months of planning and my mom yelling at me to pack, I have finally made it to Sevilla!

The traveling here was somewhat of a nightmare. Everything was smooth sailing until we boarded the plane in Chicago. It had started to snow before takeoff, so we spent about 45 minutes on the runway waiting for the plane to de-ice. This was a problem because around 30 or40 of us had to make a flight from Madrid to Sevilla at 8:45 AM…and originally we weren’t scheduled to arrive in Madrid until 7:45 AM. From the start, this was a bit worrisome.

When we landed in Madrid it was 8:11 AM, our plane was just starting to board. A flight attendant told us we wouldn’t make the next flight, but of course, we tried. We rushed off the plane and honestly ran through everything–getting our passports stamped, taking the train to the other terminal, running through security. Still in a sweatshirt and scarf, I was sweltering.

At 8:46 AM, my friend Kenzie and I bolted upstairs to the main terminal, frantically trying to locate our gate. We couldn’t find it on the flight board, so we were running through the terminal until we saw a line of people from our earlier flight. THANK GOD, I thought, as initially I thought we had made it. Nope. This was the line for the Iberia Airlines Problems. We had all missed our flight. This is where the nightmare began.

Why didn’t the plane to Sevilla delay for this many people? We weren’t sure. Iberia was at fault, and all supplied us with, albeit inconvenient, eventual flights to Sevilla. The study abroad-ers in the beginning of the line took a flight at 11:45 AM to an airport south of Sevilla, and Iberia paid for them to bus an hour back to the Sevilla airport from there. Unfortunately, Kenzie and I were at the back of the line. We got the 5:50 PM flight to Sevilla, and a voucher for a free meal. We spent the next 10 hours at the Madrid airport taking turns sleeping until we found another group on our flight from our program. If you had walked by us that day, you would have seen several hobo-looking lumps on the cold, tiled floor of the Madrid airport, passed out. I’m 100% positive I drooled a little.

Luckily, our flight to Sevilla was smooth and short, only a mere 45 minutes. Our luggage made it, and eventually we found a man with a CIEE program sign. However, when we arrived he announced to all of us in scared, broken English, “They told me there would only be about 5 or 6 of you…so you will have to bear with me.” There were about 20 or so of us. The poor guy (all by himself) had to call all of our host families to let them know we were on our way, and then kindly paid for all of us to take a taxis to our new homes.

On my way to my apartamento, the taxi driver turned on the radio–Katy Perry got to greet me in Spain! It’s interesting because American music plays on the radio everywhere you go…it must be the good beats, because I’m not sure that the people here understand what the songs are saying.

When we arrived at my new home, my roommate (also from UW-Madison) Whitney and my host mother, Amparo, were waiting outside. Amparo greeted me with besos (kisses) on each cheek, as is a common greeting in Spain. She led me up to our new apartment and after I unpacked my things we had cena (dinner) at 10 PM. Amparo made us sopa (soup) of mushrooms, huevos con queso (eggs with cheese filling) and hot dogs for dinner.

For American standards, the apartment is pretty small, but Whitney and I each have our own rooms so it’s comfortable. Amparo and her husband, José, have been living here for 27 years, and it’s incredible to me that they raised three daughters in such a small space. It is also very cold inside these apartments–according to Spaniards, when Americans turn up the heat, Spaniards simply put on more clothing. I have a small heater than I can only use during the day to keep warm, and my slippers and I have become besties.

Today we had two sessions through CIEE about home stays and safety measures. We heard all about the petty crime and where to go if “your appendix is sticking out” and other extremes. We also were interviewed to see what our proficiency in Spanish is, and later toured the city. In all, my walking tracker says I walked 8.5 miles in one day–so I’m pretty sure I can eat whatever my heart desires while I’m over here! In fact, my small group and I went out for sangrias after we had a “tapas” dinner…

A purple selfie with my Sevilla group while splitting a few botellas de sangría!

Even though traveling here was pretty unfortunate, after being here for a day I am beyond happy I’m here. The weather is beautiful and all the people (including the Americans) are amazing.

Here are pictures from la Puente de Triana (the Triana bridge that connects my neighborhood to the university) at 9 a.m. this morning… Can’t wait to see what tomorrow holds!