It’s been five days since I’ve been in Spain and today is the second day of classes. It hasn’t even been a week, and yet I feel like I’ve seen and experienced so much while going through a rollercoaster of emotions. Traveling from the U.S. to Barcelona was nothing but a smooth ride. On the day of departure, I received a notification regarding my flight delay from D.C. to New York, which meant I would miss my connecting flight from New York to Barcelona. The airline, on my behalf, rebooked me on a different flight itinerary going from DC to Amsterdam and from there to Barcelona. Unfortunately, my flight to Amsterdam, too, was delayed and I ended up missing my connecting flight to Barcelona anyways. At least KLM felt bad enough to give me a food coupon so I could get a free cheese sandwich at the airport as I waited for my new flight. When I finally made it to Barcelona, I thought I got the hardest part over with…until I struggled to find my luggage because it had come with the flight I had missed previously.
Well, in the end, I found myself out of the airport to the bus parking lot where an IES Abroad staff member was waiting for me and other students arriving at similar times. Did I expect the socializing and the introductions to start right from when I arrived? Yes, sort of. Was I ready for it? No, not at all. Apart from the travel exhaustion, I had lost about 80% of my ability to socialize during the pandemic. While feeling the pressure to introduce myself and interact amongst other students who seemed mostly outgoing and extroverted, I had to be gracious to myself and remind myself there will be many more opportunities throughout the semester to meet new people and for others to get to know me as well. Honestly, all I wanted was a bed to crash in at this point.
Next day – Day 1. I won’t lie. I totally slept through a Gothic Tour that I had signed up for and I wasn’t sorry. Every minute of sleep I could get I was going to get. And yes, I got every minute of all 13 hours of sleep on this first night. Believe me when I say I barely made it to the orientation at 3pm.
Day 2. I must have been jetlagged because I woke up at 3am and could not fall back asleep. With not enough sleep in my system, I joined the rest of the students in the program as we got on buses to Girona for our day trip. Once we got there, I was desperate for a black iced coffee to wake me up. I found some friends to go to a café with, and with the help of my friend and housemate, Jazmin Martinez, I was able to order an iced coffee. Someone tell me why the barista handed me a shot of espresso with one ice cube. A SINGLE ICE CUBE *insert crying emoji* Later, Google told me “Spanish café con hielo isn’t iced coffee at all, but rather a mug of hot coffee served with a few ice cubes on the side” (cntraveler). Well, lesson learned. Never again will I order another café con hielo here in Spain. Putting this failed iced coffee venture aside, let me tell you about the views of Girona!! As we got into groups and followed our tour guides, we learned so much about this beautiful city in Spain’s northeastern Catalonia region. The river, the medieval architecture, the Roman remains… absolutely stunning. It isn’t surprising that Girona was one of the filming locations for the Game of Thrones series. By the end of the day, I had gotten 14,290 steps in, covered a total of 6.29 miles, and climbed 31 flights of stairs, and I don’t regret anything.
Day 3. It was a much needed day of rest, unpacking, and settling in a little more. It was also the day where it finally occurred to me that I really am in Spain. Classes were starting the next day and I felt overwhelmed. I missed the feeling of being inside my comfort zone—knowing my way around the school campus in Michigan, knowing people, knowing where to get lunch, knowing the language. I missed knowing. I missed familiarity.
Day 4. I’m not sure where all the nerves and emotions from the previous day went because I woke up excited and ready to start the day. I think my enthusiasm for spending my last first day of college in Barcelona overshadowed any feelings of doubt I may have had. It also helped that I only had one class to get through and a market tour in the afternoon that I was really looking forward to. Class went well and it went by fast. Did I mention how much I love syllabus week? As the rest of my classes will begin in two days, I will gladly follow along the course syllabus and introduce myself without having to worry about the homework and exams until later.
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<p>Hi, my name is Sanny Yang. I am a senior at Hope College (Holland, MI) studying Political Science and Global Studies. I was born in South Korea but mostly grew up in Lilongwe, Malawi. I am excited to study abroad in Barcelona, Spain and to share this journey with you!</p>