The First night
The first day and a half in Spain was interesting to say the least. The man who picked Alexa and I up from the airport didn’t speak any English, so we couldn’t actually talk to him. He was holding a sign with a Seventh-day Adventist logo and we figured that was enough to get in his white van. We just hoped it was legit.
Luckily, we also picked up two other girls from La Sierra from the airport, one of which spoke fluent Spanish. She was the only reason we had any information and how we knew we chose the right white van to get in.
On the 30 minute drive from the airport in Valencia to the school is where I was freaking out a little, realizing I didn’t know hardly any Spanish in a Spanish speaking country…for the next 6-9 months. No big deal.
La Escuela Superior de Español de Sagunto is located in a quaint little town in Spain called Sagunto, nestled in thousands of orange groves.
That night we arrived at the school about 5 p.m., which was 4 a.m. our time. We met people from all of the other Adventist schools from all over the U.S.: Southern, Oakwood, PUC, Andrews, Union, and more.
It was a strange feeling; knowing I’m about to be in this unfamiliar place for a considerable amount of time with these strangers.
Alexa and I met some girls that night who wanted to go into town because one girl needed a toothbrush. Eight girls in a new town at night? What could go wrong?
One of the people who spoke Spanish called a couple taxis and we piled in. One girl said she knew where to go and that we should go to the train station to walk to the market, Mercadona, which ended up being like a 20-minute walk. We arrived two minutes before they closed. Definitely not the best way.
And I’m also pretty sure the taxi driver ripped us off too and took us a longer way to the train station. But nevertheless, it was cool to make new friends, see the city at night, and have new experiences like this in a new country.
The First Day
The first day I woke up in Spain, I looked out my window and the first photo is what I saw. I was excited for the beautiful sunrise and new beginnings.
I started a travel journal to document the memories. The first day I wrote, “I still can’t believe I’m here. It’s been wild. Today was the first day of the program and there was a welcome, an orientation, and a placement test…all 100% in Spanish. I do not speak Spanish.” I remember it being super frustrating not being able to ask questions or even communicate.
Also after taking a pretty tough placement test and oral exam that I felt I failed, I felt pretty dumb. I felt dumb because I couldn’t communicate, and I was about to be there for the next 6-9 months. I second guessed everything. I remember calling my boyfriend at the time and he told me that it would get easier and I would start to pick it up. It was hard to believe at this point, but it helped.
Later that day, we took a tour of the campus and signed up for classes, also both all in Spanish. I don’t know why I didn’t think about how everything would be in Spanish.
The rest of the day I met more people at the school, including someone who, I didn’t know it at the time but would become very close to. In my journal I wrote, “Halfway through the day we met Antoinette and hit it off. We spent the rest of the day with her talking and laughing. It was a pretty sweet ending to a day with a rough start. Tomorrow is a new day! A dia nueve!” I cringe because this Spanish is very wrong. I only wrote two phrases in Spanish the first day and they were both painfully incorrect. But it showed that I was learning because I was able to recognize this and I knew the correct way to say it. And it gave me a good laugh.
I also wrote that day, “The country is pretty. Where we are, Sagunto, there a lot of orange orchards, small roads, some hills, and the town has small cobblestone roads with tall buildings on both sides. I’m excited to explore Valencia and Sagunto.”