My first week in Madrid was definitely one to remember. It was filled with a mix of emotions that I look back at now, only 2 weeks later, and laugh. I think it's funny to look back at moments like this from a distance and realize they actually weren't as bad as we thought they were at the moment. These moments are what make up the experiences we remember. Before my trip, I was praying that everything went smoothly because I was traveling alone, it was going to be my first time in Europe and it was the first time I was traveling on such a long flight (the longest flight I had been on was only three hours.) Well...everything that could have gone wrong, went wrong. Saying bye to Santi and my family obviously sucked (I was crying hysterically when I went through security and they probably thought I was crazy lol.) My trip was from Miami to New York, where I would stop for a two-hour layover, and then from there to Madrid. I was sure that two hours was enough to make it to my next flight and everything thus far was going how it was supposed to ... until we got to New York. We landed at JFK, but had to wait until there was a gate available. 20 minutes go by and then 30, and we are still stuck in the same spot. You can imagine that I started to panic thinking I wasn't going to make it for my next flight. After about 40 minutes I was finally out of the plane and rushing to get to security. Of course, when I get there, the line is huge. I am frantically taking off my shoes, putting my things in the bins hoping that the line will move as fast as possible. By the time I got through security I was sweating and extremely anxious. I ran to the gate that was on my boarding pass, and there was nothing on the screen and not one worker from the airline I was supposed to be going on. At that point, I start asking everyone around me what was going on and everyone was as confused as I was. Finally, a worker told us that we were in the correct gate but that our flight would be delayed, and that's it. 2 hours went by and no one had given us any information or updates. People were beginning to get furious, including me. Apparently, the plane from the airline that was using the gate before had broken down and they had to wait until someone came to move it. 3 hours later and we began to board. The entire plane ride I just slept, to be honest. When we arrived to Madrid I went downstairs to wait for my luggage. And I waited, and waited, and waited, but it never arrived. Apparently American Airlines never switched my bag from NY to Madrid. Knowing me, I would have thought my first instict was to start hysterially crying, but at that point I was so exhausted that I actually could not stop laughing. I took an Uber to my Airbnb, without any luggage (luckily I had at least put my underwear in my carry on lol), where the lady that cleans was waiting for me with the keys. The day was gloomy and it was raining, which didn't help my mood at all. I was tired, alone, jetlagged and scared all at the same time. That day all I did was sleep and watch Netflix in my room, terrified of every noise I heard in the apartment (you can hear absolutely everything.) That night I decided I had to get up (mainly because I didn't have any f*cking clothe), and do something even if it was exploring the streets near my new home away from home. I was actually really excited to find a street filled with my favorite stores 5-minute walking distance from where I am living. The area is amazing and relatively close to everything. The next day was my orientation for school at Nebrija University. I got to meet all the kids from my program which were all super nice and got to tour the campus. The university is small and everyone dresses up to go to class (which I love and is totally different than at UF where people basically where their PJs.) 4 days later, my sister got to Madrid and the entire two weeks she was there all we did was eat and drink wine (my two favorite things.) Since she has been to Madrid multiple times before, every day we explored a new place, museum, bakery and so on. I have only been here for 3 weeks and I already want to move. There is so much to do, the people are so kind and the food is the best! To this day I can't believe I actually came and get to share this experience with my roommates also! I know Madrid will be a city I will remember for the rest of my life and I can't wait to see what the next couple of months will be like.
Valeria Laguna x