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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Mis primeros paseos en España

It was a long day. A looonggg day. A Reagan to JFK to Madrid to Sevilla day. The funny part is, that the fact that I'm studying abroad--that I'm living in another country still  hasn't sunk in yet! And I'm writing this from my new home!

But let's rewind...

I suppose my technical "first" steps were when we entered the Madrid airport, after a long and sleepless night across the Atlantic. I can never sleep when I travel to my destination, so I figured I'd be on top of it, and take a sleeping pill. Then I swallowed it without water. And it got stuck in my throat. I won't go into the details, but let's just say waiting three hours for the "soft gel" to disintegrate was not my idea of an enjoyable flight. Moving on.
We landed thirty minutes early and wandered around the airport for a few hours, picking up other W&M students until we had all assembled in a pack before our gate. We hopped on the plane, which was packed full of other students, ages 19-23, all bound for Sevilla. While, of course, I'm glad they've chosen to expand their minds with study abroad, why did they have to choose my city? I don't want to meet any other Americans! I can just go home to do that!
I still manage to keep my spirits up and chat with my seat mates who were---you guessed it. American students. The plane flew through a cloud most of the time, so whenever I glanced out the window it looked like we were in Heaven or something. For obvious reasons, I abruptly dismissed this notion.

And then...through the wisps of fog and air, Sevilla! Or, more accurately, the land around Sevilla! It was rolling, green and tan, patched with farms and tall buildings. As I looked down at it all, I realized that whenever I go abroad, I always expect it to look wildly different than the US, and therefore am usually slightly disappointed. The truth is that every country has suburbs, and they all kind of look the same.

We landed in Sevilla, and all was going well until baggage claim. I have been lucky, off all the flights I've taken, I have never lost a bag. All great things must come to an end, apparently. After successfully retrieving one bag (the unimportant one, of course) and waiting for about twenty minutes, the conveyer belt stopped and an airport official announced that there was no more baggage. I glanced behind me to see over half of my flight also didn't have their baggage.
"Go to the Iberia desk and file the complaint!" the man yelled to the roiling mob. After that, there was just one thing to do--run like hell to the lost & found desk. What never started out as a line soon grew into a war march as raging students barraged the poor Iberian attendants who happened to have the bad luck to work that day. I mean, it wasn't their fault. (The incident, however, is still inexcusable. How do you lose 100+ bags?!)
I waited with the angry villagers for a undeterminable amount of time as people (not officials, other students) barked commands at us that only succeeded in turning the "line" in to rush hour in the Mixing Bowl (to all non-Northern VA people, you're not cool enough to get it). Behind me where a loud group of American students, who were harassing one of the guards and then proceeding to make fun of another one and then talk obnoxiously and loudly. I just wanted to turn around and ask "Why are you even in this country? You are the reason people hate American!"

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