My First Day in an European Country - My Family Travels

“Attention, last call for flight seventeen to Madrid.”

Here we go I thought as the announcer’s words were repeated again in Spanish, my first ten-hour flight across an open ocean and to a whole new country. Emotions and thoughts were spinning inside me with anticipation of our arrival. Questions like what Spain would look like, do we get to go see any castles and what happens if I get lost, kept plaguing me. My nerves were on edge as we flew over the Atlantic, but as arriving in Madrid sleep deprived and wearing two long sleeve shirts to keep warm, I couldn’t help but glance around and pull a cheesy smile through shivering teeth.

Right away the first instinct of the seven people I had traveled with in this National Spanish Honor Society bunch was to find the nearest bed. However as Spain was dawning on a new day we couldn’t let it go to waste so it was time to explore.

Walking through the streets of Madrid, or what the locals call New Madrid, one would say it looks exactly like New York. Buildings, streets and billboards, everything is new or being reconstructed except everything’s in Spanish. Noticing however as I’m strolling through the streets that people here are dressed as if they’re walking down a runway instead of a sidewalk, which made my ensemble look ragged. Everyone’s dressed in designer clothes and high-heeled boots, which you would think would be painful since most people in Europe walk wherever life takes them. But I give them credit and keep walking deeper into the heart of Madrid, where older buildings lie and soon the group and I were standing in the center of Spain. Looking up at the buildings circling the center was spectacular, they were monstrous buildings and with so much detail I’m sure any designer would be proud.

Summing up our day as we walked around as zombies in Spain, we saw numerous and various items that were definitely foreign or quite strange to us. Everywhere we went was beautiful with architecture, however very different from the United States. Graffiti is a dominant art in the Spanish culture from every street to every wall has graffiti plastered all over it. Also the bathrooms our very different from the United States too and my experience with one was one to remember. After having lunch in a little corner café and trying to figure out the difference in American dollars and euros I went to find the el baño (bathroom). I did however find the café’s bathroom but when I went to flush there was no lever! Not knowing what to do, I looked around casually for some sort of sign to help me out. Ten minutes later I just gave up and prayed that the toilet was automatic. Apparently I didn’t pray hard enough for a young niña (girl) walked in the bathroom right after me. I couldn’t stop myself so I tried to stop her, but the poor girl didn’t understand me and walked straight in the bathroom shutting the door on my embarrassed face. Later though I found out that I was supposed to pull the chain that was hanging in the ceiling. Now every time I go to a bathroom in Spain I pull or push anything as long as it works.

Shaking off the embarrassment of the evening our group slumped back to the hotel to unpack and share the stories of the outing today. However I climbed the stairs to my room and jumped in bed, too exhausted to even have a grumpy conversation. Before I fell asleep though I remember thinking I’m in Spain and I didn’t even get lost on my first day; bring on tomorrow baby.

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