Today was my first full day in Murcia! Part of me still doesn't feel like it's real. It's like I've been waiting and working and wanting to get here and it seemed so unobtainable until I finally got to my new apartment.
Alright so to rewind a little bit - My name's Alex. I'm from Southern California but I'm a Marine Corps brat so I've lived a little bit of everywhere. I study Spanish, German and Linguistics at West Virginia University, but this semester I am in Murcia, Spain to take classes at la Universidad de Murcia and I will be attending a university in Fulda, Germany this coming summer to take classes and do an internship. Upon my return, I will begin my third and last year as an undergraduate student - slightly terrifying.
Also, to clarify, I decided that for post titels I will use a word that I learned for the first time on the day that I write each post. Today my word is "perchas", meaning "hangers", something I am in dire need of.
So anyway, back to the whole Murcia thing. I left my house in Temecula at 3am for the airport for my 6am flight. Of course, there was a delay, because God forbid I travel without encountering at least one. Three hours late, I arrived in Newark for a 3 hour layover. I subsequently flew from Newark to Madrid for 8 hours which was just lovely. There was a mother and daughter fighting next to me the entire time in Spanish and I had no desire to get in the middle of it so I slept and kept to myself, but I couldn't help thinking of my own mother and how if my visa had arrived on time that we already would have been in Spain, having the time of our lives together (for those who don't know, my mom is my very best friend). I'm not totally heartbroken though cause she's visiting in March! I arrived in Madrid at 10am completely unsure of what my next step would be. I had to buy an international SIM card so I could let my family know I wasn't dead yet and the lady at the counter was absolutely precious, I don't know what I would've done had she not been so helpful - I asked her the best way to get to Madrid, thinking I would have to take a taxi from the airport to the train station, but this beautiful woman told me I could take a shuttle to another terminal that held a small train station that could eventually get me to Murcia. I almost kissed her. So I went and found this itty bitty little train station, all the while carrying the duffel bag from Hell (whose shoulder strap I had completely forgotten was in one of my other bags until I found it later while unpacking). I tried using one of the machines for Renfe - the most prominent train company in Spain - but it didn't accept American credit cards so I went to customer service and bought two tickets - one to Atocha and then one from Atocha to Murcia. On my first train ride I met quite coincidentally a girl named Melania who's from Ibiza - a Spanish island in the Mediterranean. We both stopped in Atocha and grabbed coffee in a little cafe in the train station before our respective trains arrived. We actually added each other on Facebook and she wants me to come visit her in Cordoba! Funny how you can find the most wonderful people in the most unlikely places... I rode from Atocha to Murcia without a problem and met a lovely woman who lived in Murcia and we talked for a few hours before arriving. She let me use her phone to call my landlord and let her know I was coming AND she made sure a cab came before she left for her home... talk about a Godsend. I took a taxi to my new apartment and my landlord met me outside. She showed me around my new apartment (which is really very nice by the way) and I met my first flatmate, Isa. She's really sweet and loves to cook so I'm hoping somewhere along the line we can start trading recipes. It was only about 730 when I finally got to take a breather but as soon as I did I knew it was bedtime - 30 consecutive hours of travel will do that to you, or so I hear. I slept until 730 this morning, which was in plenty of time to go watch the sunrise from our private terrace (I know, I'm spoiled). Isa got home from her boyfriend's place around 10am and we went grocery shopping in the town center, which is luckily only a five or ten minute walk from our apartment.
Okay so grocery shopping in and of itself deserves its own paragraph. Like any European country, Spain has stores for different things, places for just fruit, just drinks, etc. But there are lots of mercados that have most of what you need for everyday stuff, which is where we went. So you walk in and there are locks for carritos at the front (little carts with fabric bags that people bring when they walk to the store and have to carry things home). Most people use baskets that have long handles while in the store - it feels like you're pulling a wagon more or less. So you pick up fruits and veggies like you normally would and put them in small plastic bags, but then you weigh it tell the machine what it's weighing and it PRINTS YOU A CUTE LITTLE TICKET WITH THE PRICE ON IT! Suffice it to say I bought a few extra things just cause I liked the stickers. Anyway, I got mostly normal stuff that I already have experienced cause I didn't wanna starve but as I settle in I plan to buy more native foods. I got Fanta because I absolutely love European Fanta - it's way better than the American version. I got salad but they don't use freakin' dressing here so I can't even eat it unless I want to use oil and vinegar - ew. BUT, I'm here to adapt, not to continue doing the same things I would were I in the States, so guess who gets to try that tomorrow... it's me. Oh and you have to bag your own food and buy the plastic bags when you check out! Also, it feels like everything except the meat is cheaper here than in the US but I also have to keep in mind the conversion rates of the euro.
Moving on from my very exciting grocery store experience, when we got back I met my second flatmate, Ines. She is absolutely precious, I think we're going to get along really well. The girls went into their rooms so I went and watched half a movie on my computer - side note: Netflix does NOT work in Spain. Had I known this, I may have stayed in the States..... Just kidding, but I may soon have symptoms of withdrawal, especially considering I was in the middle of season 6 of Grey's Anatomy.. Thank God my dad downloaded some movies onto my computer.. Then Ines wanted to get lunch so I went with her because I may or may not have been dying of starvation. I got the Spanish version of spaghetti which was delicious and she got eggplant with this amazing sauce that made me want to steal her meal. Interestingly enough, there was a sign with the menu outside the store, and the menu changes every day, which I think is pretty cool. We sat in the living room with the tiny TV on and talked for a few hours and then she went to the library to study with Isa and I took a nap.
I woke up to Ines knocking on my door saying it was almost 9 - thank God she woke me up because I slept for 5 hours - and when I came out I met my third and final flatmate, Yas! She's from the the Canary Islands so her accent is significantly more difficult to understand but I can handle it so far, she just has to clarify a little more than Isa and Ines, who are from Murcia and Valencia respectively, but she's super sweet! Isa made herself some dinner and so did Yas but Ines doesn't like to cook so she ate her leftovers from lunch and I made a sandwich for myself. I don't have much to eat yet so my diet has been cut in at least half so I hope my body doesn't go into starvation mode... But in a few days I'm sure I'll feel more comfortable I can start cooking and the like. I still feel like a stranger in someone else's home although the girls have been very welcoming. I'm not worried though, these things take time. We talked for a bit and then the girls started doing homework and I began this lovely blog that you may or may not be reading right now. Erin and Jake just arrived in Murcia so I'm meeting Er for breakfast tomorrow and doing some shopping. I can't believe I get to live here with one of my favorite people in the whole wide world, AHH! Our apartments aren't super close but there are buses and trains for that sort of thing so I'll live, the same goes for Jake and I.
On another note, I still haven't been able to unpack half my clothes because I don't have any freakin' hangers so I get to go find some tomorrow which should be fun..
Also, I don't know which campus I'll be at but Merced is a 5 minute walk and Espinardo is a 40 minute tram ride so while I would prefer the former, I have a feeling it will be the latter.
Anyway, it's 1230am which translates to time for bed, despite my lengthy nap. I can't wait to start my intensive so I have something to DO! I've never ever had this little to do... ever. It's disconcerting. And just let me say that writing this blog has been really odd because I've only spoken Spanish since I got here... I kept having to erase a few words that had somehow come out in Spanish instead of English, but what can you do.
Until next time!
I wrote this blog while living in Spain my second year of college - figured it wouldn't hurt to share.