Touching Ground in Valencia

Jet-lag, fatigue, excitement, restlessness, uncertainty, nervousness — a mixed bag of feelings ran through my body and mind as we took our first steps on Spain’s soil. Upon landing, I was coming up on my 26th hour of consciousness – aside from the measly 15 to 20 minute spurts of sleep I experienced for the first hour or so on our plane ride over – and slowly felt my attention span dwindling; my level of patience was plummeting, and I was being unforgivingly reminded of just how valuable sleep can be to the human brain. I was eager to begin our journey, just as much I was to settle in at the residence hall and take an enormous nap after what was my longest day of traveling to date.

Meeting our mentors and Carles for the first time at the airport was a pleasure, and they assisted in making our transition into Valencia a smooth and effortless encounter – something I’m sure we are all tremendously grateful for. Their kindness, in hindsight, was a sign of things to come. Even though there has been a slight language barrier between the locals of Valencia and myself, I have been able to effectively communicate with people and recognize the astounding level of hospitality that people of this region hold. I have yet to feel unsafe in any scenario *knocks on wood* and the people here have been very patient and welcoming when speaking with me. I may not yet be able to engage into deep conversation and find out intricate details about people’s personal lives, but I am certainly able to navigate my way throughout Valencia and get by on a day to day basis. I look forward to learning more about the area, as well as enhancing my Spanish through my every day encounters.

Now that the jet lag has seemed to wear off and I have established somewhat of a routine, I am beginning to love this experience and am optimistic for what the future of this trip holds for not only myself, but for all of us in this program. Admittedly, there are still times where I miss home and I miss my loved ones, but in the back of my mind, I know that these six weeks will go by quickly and I will be back in the United States before I know it. So, I am just taking this experience in stride and learning to appreciate every second of it; whether good or bad. The challenge of adapting to a new culture and language is refreshing and something I will reflect on for the rest of my life.