In short: my trip began less than smoothly. My first flight served two amazing meals, which I was very appreciative of, but they left the light on for most of the flight, so I only slept an hour. The excitement and nerves didn’t help me sleep either. But no worries, I read and wrote and had a pretty great plane ride. The trouble started when I landed in Lisbon for my layover with just 40 minutes to get to the connecting flight. Two long lines for customs and security stood between me and my flight to Madrid.
After seeing a few people skip the customs line, I told an airport worker my flight would leave in 35 minutes. She said I still had to wait. A few minutes later I heard someone yell “If you’re on the Madrid flight, come with me.” So, apparently, I could skip ahead after all. From there, I was brought to the front of the customs line and then the front of the security line. I felt like a queen. It didn’t matter. I missed my flight anyway.
The whole experience was quite stressful, but I honestly think it was a good start to my trip. It made me realize right away that even when something goes wrong, kind people will be there to help, and I will be able to solve whatever problem I have. The man at the customs desk was very kind to me and told me he loved my name, Madeira, which means “wood” in Portuguese. I told him that I was named after the Portuguese island because my parents loved their honeymoon there, and he was so thrilled. The person who got me my second ticket to Madrid was extremely kind as well. After standing in the ticket line for about 40 minutes, my back hurting from carrying two bags, and in much need of sleep, I was in a pretty bad mood. Even so, I couldn’t get angry at the man working there, especially after he said I could have a free ticket to Spain only two hours after my original flight and a voucher for a 6€ to get breakfast. He seemed happily surprised that I thanked him for his help rather than yell at him for things out of his control, which I’m sure happens a lot. I would much rather miss my flight than suffer through that job all day.
A couple of hours later, I was finally on my flight to Madrid! I did miss the IES Abroad bus and arrived at my host mom’s house a little late, but she was very calm and welcoming. Even though I was late to orientation, she told me to take my time eating lunch. “Tranquila,” she kept saying. So, I’m glad I was able to begin my abroad experience with something hectic and unplanned to remind me to be tranquila throughout the twists and turns of this semester.
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<p>I'm a junior at Tufts University majoring in Economics and minoring in Spanish, Latin, and Education. My favorite extracurricular activity is my job at a nonprofit called Let's Get Ready that offers low-income students free SAT tutoring and college counseling. I also love to get outside for a run, hike, or outdoor yoga! I'm excited for all the academic, linguistic, cultural, and natural experiences abroad will bring me!</p>