After three nights in London, I’m finally feeling somewhat adjusted to the time difference between New York and most of Europe. I spent some quality time with friends while there and did my best to go to bed about an hour earlier each night – I managed to fall asleep last night just before midnight UK time!
The British Museum in London.
I left London this morning and, as soon as my taxi hit major traffic after an accident just ahead of us, I had a strange feeling that I’d have an eventful travel day. I arrived at the airport about twenty minutes later than I had anticipated, but luckily I had built in some wiggle room in my arrival time. As soon as I walked through security at Heathrow, I walked directly towards my favorite lunch spot at the airport, Wagamama, only to find out it was closed for renovations! Naturally, this was quite disappointing, but my stomach was grumbling, so I grabbed a quick bite at WHSmith before boarding my plane.
As much as I love to travel, every once in a while, I’m afflicted with a bit of motion sickness. My family still makes fun of me on every flight before takeoff and landing and my mom has even started to tuck a barf-bag in front of my seat just in case. When my plane took off, I saw thick clouds looming overhead and immediately went through a list of everything I had eaten that morning. I stuffed my earphones farther into my ears and tried to block out the shaking of the plane. At a certain point, I was convinced the plane was in free-fall and I thought that was it for my stomach. As soon as we hit blue sky above the clouds, I felt the whole tension of the plane release. I’d made it clear of any issues.
I landed in Madrid to find rain, rain, and more rain. I hopped in a cab and made my first nerve-wracking attempt at conveying my hotel’s address in Spanish. For the first time ever, my pigeon Spanish was met back with not English, but Spanish! I made it to my hotel by around 7, checked in entirely in Spanish, and went to my room to do some research on what my food options might be on a Sunday night. I correctly assumed that most everything would be closed, however, a mass of people led me to El Corte Inglés across the street and I found my first 100 Montaditos in the basement food court/supermarket area of the store!
While my Spanish has been met exclusively with Spanish (and I’m taking that as a complement for now), I did confuse the lady behind the counter at 100 Montaditos. I might be able to order food successfully, but my Spanish is significantly slower than any native speaker. When she asked me my name and I spelled it, “R-O-Y-A,” my slow speech and poorly rolled “R” somehow turned my name into “E-R-O-Y-A.” While I’ve gotten my name butchered at Starbucks many a time, this one was definitely new.
My new name - "eroya."
I ordered two montaditos, one with calamares y alioli and one with lomo al ajillo y mahonesa. Little did I know that each was about three inches long and not quite enough for a full meal, but super cheap (1€ each!) and definitely a great snack. I definitely see late night trips to 100 Montaditos in my future.
My two montaditos.
As for now, I’m relaxing and watching MasterChef Junior 3, a kids’ cooking competition in Spain, to try and pick up some more food-related words. While I can definitely fend for myself with my limited Spanish, I have a really hard time reading menus and figuring out what’s what. Lucky for me, I eat just about everything, so even if it takes me a while to order what I’m really in the mood for, I know I’m in for good food either way.
I’m excited to officially meet up with my program tomorrow and start exploring the city – hopefully the weather will clear up a bit! We have two busy weeks of orientation filled with lots of activities and trips before we officially start class. I’m looking forward to picking my classes and figuring out how my schedule will balance out – factoring in my one hour commute to UC3M from my homestay will definitely be a change from Bowdoin’s small campus and 20 minute walk from one end to the other!