The flight was long and we didn’t sleep much, but otherwise the trip went smoothly. Customs was simple and quick, no luggage was lost, and after an hour of waiting at the meeting point, we spotted a representative from Alcalá. We rode a bus with more than twenty students from Butler University (no wonder my acceptance letter said I was from Butler!) and were met by our host family.
We live with a couple named Belen and Fernando and their son Moises. They’ve been so kind and helpful to us. Amanda and I have been a little shy, at first, but we’re working on it, and I'm sure it will grow easier to communicate and be friendly as we adjust and our Spanish improves. We live in a big, open space on the top floor of their home, with a skylight that opens onto rows of orange tile roofs.
I’d like to take a moment to reassure any students considering this program that you will not go hungry! Our host family has provided us with plenty of great food. Most of it has been familiar, such as spaghetti, sandwiches, chicken, rice, but we’ve had the opportunity to try a few new things too. We had Spanish tortillas, for instance, which we both enjoyed. We’ve also had lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. The tomatoes are the best I’ve ever eaten. Dessert is fresh fruit, but I can still get my sugar fix from breakfast: sweet little cakes that are a lot like muffins.
The university is old and beautiful, but it has all the modern conveniences of a newer school, such as wifi and vending machines. It is an interesting experience to be going to a school that’s a great deal older than my country. UCF may be turning 50 this year, but the University of Alcalá de Henares celebrated its 500th anniversary back in 1999. Inside, everything is so ancient and ornate that I feel like I’m in a museum where I shouldn’t talk loudly or touch things, but instead, it’s our school. It's where we’re supposed to hang out and study and chat and eat lunch. It is wonderful and strange.
We had orientation on Tuesday and our classes yesterday and today. We each have four classes and while all this Spanish is overwhelming, I think I’m in the appropriate classes, and I’m looking forward to learning more.