You Live and You Learn

72 hours, many miles and some tears later, I can happily say I finally retrieved my bags. I went to the airport for the third time yesterday to get my luggage that was arriving on a flight from Miami that morning. For whatever reason Iberia decided that my belongings were better off sitting on a cart in Miami than actually getting on a plane to Madrid for three entire days. To say that I’m a bit peeved is a grand understatement but I am relieved I could spend all of yesterday unpacking and settling in just a little bit more. To say that I am unbelievably grateful for having such wonderful parents who helped me through the ordeal would also be an understatement (and I’m not even trying to suck up). This just proved once again, you’re never too old to need a little parental support every now and then.

I find myself continually relying on the phrase “You live and you learn.” So far I’ve learned how to handle a lost luggage situation, if you go to a restaurant at 9 p.m. there will still not be anyone ready to eat dinner (that doesn’t happen until about 10) and Chino shops are the best for buying just about everything and I should never have spent so much money at Corte Ingles when I studied abroad. This is just a very short list but you get the point.

Highlights of the past few days involve returning to the things that I love including: running through Parque del Oeste, una napolitana de chocolate and cafe con leche at Mallorquina and very cheap wine. Today we even made it to Parque del Retiro to munch on some bocadillos (sandwiches) and bask in the beautiful weather. Tonight I put our kitchen to the test to cook my very first dinner! We’ve been having some great meals trying out restaurants in our neighborhood but I was eager to see how it worked out. I started slow with some tortellini just to be on the safe side. I was a bit nervous seeing as this is what I was dealing with:The end product was not too shabby so we’ll see what more I can cook up in these upcoming months!

On the plus side…

I haven’t experienced jet lag since I got to Madrid!

Traveling abroad, I’m never sure if jet lag is going to kick in or not. To me, it’s always been mind over matter (that meaning if you are not constantly thinking about how you should be jet lagged, then it just won’t happen). Either way, since I arrived at 8 a.m. yesterday morning, I made it through a total of 13 hours of orientation and have been running on a reasonably normal schedule.

To say that everything has been all roses would be a lie. When I left Denver I checked two bags and was pleasantly surprised when my third carry-on was checked in for being a tad too wide when I arrived at the gate. For me, that just meant less weight to worry about lugging around on my three hour layover in Miami. Unfortunately, when I arrived in Madrid, I watched the baggage carousel go round and round until every suitcase was gone and I was left with nothing. Apparently, my bags never left Miami.

Despite the fact the fine folks at Iberia promised me they would all arrive at my apartment doorstep within 24 hours, it has been over 40 and I have yet to see them. Needless to say, this wasn’t something I ever anticipated happening and am just crossing my fingers everything gets worked out by tomorrow. I must say the only good thing that has come of it is the fifty Euro stipend per day I get that bought me a good days worth of outfits (one for daytime and another for night) at H&M. While that was nice, I’d still give anything to have my three bags back right about now.

Aside from the drama, being back in Madrid has felt great. While I’m still not sure what my exact role will be in the classroom next Monday, we were instructed today that we “must only speak English while teaching.” Easy enough I suppose.

Until my own stuff arrives, I’ve been trying to settle into our new apartment in other ways. Thankfully, it’s not too far away from where I lived when I studied abroad so I’m semi-familiar with the area and find that I remember more about it as I wander around.

With Orientation down the drain, the next few days will be spent doing menial things like getting my bank account set-up, applying for a metro/bus pass, and hopefully unpacking my bags.

One Final Hurrah: UM vs. OSU Weekend

I left Colorado early Thursday morning wearing a t-shirt, jeans and sandals despite the fact it was rainy and barely fifty degrees outside. While some at the Denver airport may have thought I looked crazy, I knew I’d be just fine because I was heading to sunny MIA. After a seemingly quick flight I ended up at an all-too-familiar glider at the Rat surrounded by some of my best friends. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face if I tried.

The weekend only went up from there. After an exhilarating (albeit overwhelming) night at my favorite Grove haunts, I woke up Friday morning ready to soak up some sun. After getting burnt at the beach it was time for happy hour at none other than Monty’s. There I was surprised by people I didn’t even know were coming into town, saw many familiar faces and loved catching up with everyone. While my night could have happily ended there, some of us journeyed into Brickell and, while it was fun, I only had one thing on my mind: Gameday.

Saturday morning meant the arrival of two of my best friends and we grabbed breakfast as quick as we could in the morning to catch up. The football game was scheduled for 7:30 but of course, we had to power hour by 12:30. By 2 in the afternoon we were on a packed and sweaty bus heading to Sun Life Stadium. Looking around at my fellow passengers ranging from current sophomores at UM to UM alum from 2009, I felt right at home. The tailgate was just like any other, full of dancing, eating, drinking and, in short, pretending to be an undergrad. Eventually game time rolled around and we made it to the stadium and we watched our team take down OSU. It was easily one of the best Hurricane games I have ever been to.

Sunday was bittersweet to say the least. While we were still high off our big win, most people had to head back to their new homes and we knew this marked the last time we would see each other for awhile. Despite some tears, I’d say we were very thankful to have such an amazing weekend together and I really could not have asked for anything better.

For me the reality of change came when I got my flight confirmation email Sunday night for my flight to Madrid set for next Sunday. Since the LA Consulate promised my Visa would arrive by then, we felt secure to book it and while I’m very relieved, I’m anxious just thinking about all the preparations I have ahead of me these next few days. My dad booked the flight that has me laying over in Miami so I’ll have a chance to grab a cortadito from Cafe Versailles one last time. Either that or I’ll call one of my friends to come grab me from the airport if I get cold feet… We’ll hope for the former.

Madrid, I’ll Be Seeing You

So the time has come to move on to the next chapter of this storybook life…

After graduating in May I stuck around Coral Gables to work for the summer. I juggled four different jobs from freelance food writer to Spanish tutor for UM’s football players. I was lucky enough to stick around my same pad and had a few different roommates come in and out. Overall it was an amazing summer full of some more WAKA kickball, happy hours at Monty’s, and even a trip to Iowa for my cousin’s wedding. Unfortunately as summer drew to a close and the future subletters were preparing to move in, some decisions had to be made. Would I make the big move to New York and begin my career in Broadcast Journalism or return to Europe to teach English at a Spanish elementary school for a year? To most people I spoke to the decision seemed obvious: Madrid. It took a little bit before the clarity kicked in for me, but once it did, I knew that I needed to return to Spain.

At the end of August, me and dad made the long 30 hour drive back to Denver with a nice stop in St. Louis to move the brother back into Wash U. It was refreshing to return home to my family, dry air and familiar haunts for the first time since January (I can’t deny the lack of work was nice too). My past three weeks have been spent with nothing but cooking meals for my fam, working out and doing menial tasks I never had time to do while busy over summer. I even got in a trip to New Mexico to visit my grandparents last weekend and tomorrow get to return to Miami for the first home football game against OSU and to catch up with people before I flee the country.

While I’ve loved the relaxation, those that know my Type-A personality well know that I thrive when busy (as long as I love those things keeping me busy). So needless to say, I’m getting a bit restless and ready to get to Madrid! When I return from Miami on Monday the next week will be devoted to prepping for my big adventure. Unfortunately getting my Visa is taking a bit longer than expected but before long I’ll be back in Madrid living with these lovely ladies that I met while studying abroad the first time around. They are teaching in different schools but it’s nice to know we will all be in the same boat. I’m sure there’s plenty of adventures in store and I can’t wait to write all about it!

Meet the future roomies, Sarah...

and Anna.