First Day Jitters in Madrid

Tilman Monsanto
May 27, 2014

(May 18,2014)

So, here it is! My study abroad trip to Madrid, Spain has officially commenced and it finally feels real. I’m currently sitting outside of my terminal at Tampa International Airport waiting to fly to Miami to then connect for Madrid. I’m finding it hard to not mentally review whatever common Spanish phrases I may need to know, anything I may have forgotten to pack, and what meeting my host family might be like. It’s all so overwhelming- the exciting kind overwhelming, of course. The plethora of feelings reminds me of my days traveling to different cities for tennis tournaments. There’s no other feeling that mimics the butterflies you get when you’re serving on the ad-court to close out a championship match. Anyway, I’ll get off my tennis-soapbox! Back to study abroad.

The flight from TPA International to MIA International was a quick 35 minutes with scenic views of the Gulf beachfront. However, it didn’t prepare for me for the marathon that was my next flight form MIA International to Madrid Barajas Airport .

This was my first international flight and it went smooth despite my having to pay a $100 ‘second checked bag fee’ through American Airlines (Tip Time: Make sure you check, double check, and read the fine print when it comes to fees, baggage allowances, as well as customs’ rules. – Airlines change these rules frequently) Just so happens Traveling to/through Europe was the most expensive destination when it comes to checking an additional bag. Nonetheless, the flight was fairly routine. The 6:30pm departure from Miami coincided nicely with the six-hour time difference between the two cities, as we arrived the next morning in Madrid (8:30) with minimal disturbance to our sleep schedules (I’m sure airlines do this intentionally).

I arrived at the Barajas airport to meet a few of the IES Abroad administrators holding welcome signs, as well as mi abuela española, Julia. Their smiles and warm Spanish greetings reassured me that this trip would be great. Julia instructed our taxi driver to take the scenic route to her apartment, acerca del parque de retiro, as they both gave me chatted about the quintessential locations to visit in Madrid. Listening to their 20-minute conversation, that lasted the entire taxi ride as if they were old high school buddies, showed me just how much the Spanish culture relies upon conversation and socialization.

Mis abuelos’ first language is Spanish, which can get a little awkward when I do not understand something they say, but I know that is just a learning curve right now. I do not regret electing to homestay as I’ve already learned new things from them. I have unpacked and feel so very welcome in my new home and cannot wait to start my studies here!

Until next time,


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Tilman Monsanto

<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">My name is Tilman Monsanto and I am studying anthropology and Spanish at the University of Florida. I also have an interest in public policy, cultural awareness, and gender studies. I have hopes of continuing my education in family law and aspirations of opening a non-profit organization for at risk youth minorities. When I am not putting in hours at the library or at the local children&#39;s shelter, I enjoy putting in hours on the tennis court with the University of Florida Tennis Club, singing at philanthropic events and talent shows around campus, or relaxing by the pool with friends in the Florida heat. I hope to learn as much as I can about the Spanish language, the vibrant culture in Madrid, Spain, and challenge myself to grow as a person in a new and unfamiliar place.</span></p>

2014 Summer 1, 2014 Summer 2
Home University:
University of Florida
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