Buenos tardes a todos!
I’m safely in Segovia, Spain! It’s a little after 6 pm here (Spain is 6 hours ahead of Indiana). Yesterday (today?) was a long day of travel, but I’m so excited to finally be here! My flights were good… the worst part was hanging out in the Madrid airport from 6:30 am – 11:30 am until the AHA International director (Marian) and her assistant (Maureen) picked us up to go to Segovia. I went and got several cafés from the cafeteria right there, and I’ve officially decided that Euros look like Harry Potter money. Luckily all of the students congregated to one meeting point and we all started getting to know each other. It looks like I’ll be with a really fun group of people this summer!
When we finally headed to Segovia around 12:30 pm, we all passed out on the bus ride, so I wasn’t even awake for my first glimpses of Spain! We pulled into the Segovia “bus station” area around 2:00 pm, and what came next can only be described as a game of red rover or picking teams for dodgeball. We walk into this big room and all of our Spanish madres (that’s “moms” for you non-Spanish-speakers… ehem, Callie) were lined up on one side, and all of the students (there are ~25 of us) lined up across from them. Then Marian and Maureen began saying the names of student / madre pairs and we went to the middle to meet our madre, do the whole European kiss on each cheek thing, and off we went!
Nati and I went with another madre and her student (Autumn – an AXO at Central Michigan!) on a short taxi ride up some beautiful windy, cobblestone roads to our apartments which are right next door to each other. My madre, Nati, is perhaps one of the most precious women ever. Maureen told us that Spanish madres like to worry and make a fuss, and Nati is clearly no exception 🙂 Nati told me she’s been hosting students for over 40 years! She loves it. I have a room to myself, but there are actually a few other boarders staying in the apartment right now. For one more week there is a female professor, Marilyn, who has been teaching classes for a few weeks with another program. She’s come multiple summers in a row to stay with Nati. There is also a man who started a college summer program with his wife here, and they both teach classes. Miguel has apparently been coming to stay with Nati for over 20 years.
After Nati showed me my room, she insisted on cooking for the afternoon meal. I hesitantly went in the kitchen after unpacking and started to explain (in Spanish) that “I’m really sorry, I’m kind of a picky eater, I like fruits / veggies, just not a lot of meats, I don’t want to offend you! I’m sorry!” She starts saying “Oh don’t worry, don’t worry! We will find things you like! Tell me when you don’t like something, and I’ll fix something new! Don’t eat it if you don’t like it! Not a problem!” For our afternoon “snack,” she gave Marilyn and I each this amazing vegetable/creamy soup, fresh salad, chicken, watermelon, and warm bread. Nati LOVES to cook, and I think it would be absolutely impossible to go hungry in this house. So my fears of finding nothing to eat have momentarily been assuaged 🙂
So far I’m slightly in disbelief that I’m actually here! We’re going to do something with more of the students and their madres in a little bit (not sure what… Nati thinks I understand Spanish really well, but I was actually just smiling and nodding a lot when she was explaining things today). Orientation is at 10:30 tomorrow morning. Our Spanish moms walk us to school, so we don’t get lost 🙂 I’ll start taking pictures tomorrow – our site director is taking us on a walking tour of Segovia after the orientation, and then our Spanish moms are picking us up by the aqueduct, so we don’t get lost coming home! So don’t worry American mom and dad, I’m being very careful!