BY SAM PALCA
The beginning of a journey is always the scariest.
Waking up on the morning of my trip, I felt tremors of excitement (or absolute terror). Fortunately, I travel a lot by myself, so the routine of airport security is practically muscle memory now. A short wait at Dulles and a deceptively smooth flight across the Atlantic found me in Germany’s largest Lufthansa hub. My time in Frankfurt Airport, however, was interminable. From 5 to 9 am I strolled around the A terminal, occasionally consuming a sandwich and (somewhat counter-intuitively for a German airport, at least to my mind) a pain au chocolate. Finally, after multiple gate changes and some very adorable toddlers, I boarded my flight and anxiously awaited my landing in Valencia.
Ordinarily, I get no sleep on airplanes and this was no exception. I finally landed in España and realized I had no idea whom I was meeting or where I was going. I decided to swallow my sheer panic, retrieve my luggage and head out past security. There, thankfully, I found José bearing a sign with the IEIMedia logo clearly displayed. He drove me to 77 Carrer de Cuba where I met my host mother, who doesn’t speak a word of English, which is good from the immersion standpoint but not so much from the actually-understanding-one-another standpoint.
My room has two twin beds, the other one for the roommate who did a backflip on concrete before our trip and wound up with a wired-shut jaw, which, in turn, prevented him from actually seeing the room we were to share, which is a shame because his sheets are totally cute. *Manly cough.* But I digress.
The first night was a dinner of lots of potato dishes and sandwiches followed by flamenco in a bar, which I left early because so tired was I … that can’t I even … write about it properly. The night, while quite warm and somewhat loud due to Saturday night revelers, was conducive to an excellent sleep. Sunday was a very tired day but nevertheless enjoyable due to a tour guide with no qualms about swearing in front of a bunch of American tourists or pointing out gargoyles that were clearly engaged with themselves in a very masturbatory manner. After that, I had lunch with my host mother and slept until dinner, after which I slept yet again in a thus far fruitless attempt to acclimate myself to a new time zone. Monday was by far the best day yet, mainly due to Bruce Strong’s photography lesson, which I enjoyed immensely. Actually knowing how to work the $800 dollar piece of plastic, metal and glass gives it far more value than if I just went around taking pictures on the auto settings with no idea what aperture meant or if it was even a word.
I’ve had quite an enjoyable time simply walking to and from the hostel where the program is based, and I’ve seen quite a few interesting things on people’s balconies, one of which was a pair of mannequin legs with a string of lights emerging from between them and looping around several plants. The city itself is beautiful, and the Jardines de Turia in the long-dry riverbed are wonderful for an early morning run. As my apprehension slowly morphs into excitement, the next few weeks promise to be full of new ideas and experiences that I will (hopefully) remember for the rest of my life.