I had figured in the ensuing weeks before leaving I would try to spend some time with the different important people in Boulder, have some hot tub soaks, drink some boxed wine. Little did I know, my friends are more amazing than I could have ever thought, and after half a day of being dragged around town I was brought home to my FIRST EVER SURPRISE PARTY. The sight of at least 40 of my friends in a decorated house they had obviously put a lot of time and energy into literally reduced me to tears. My eyes are even welling up now as I type this. Thanks guys, that really meant the world to me!
Oh dear god after 26 hours of travel, I was on the verge of breakdown. I met up with three other girls from the program on my flight from Chicago to Madrid, so when we all missed our connecting flight to Lisbon we got a chance to bond over a mini-excursion through Madrid. It was a cute little adventure but I was very ready to start learning the streets of my own foreign home. Once united with the rest of the CIEE study abroad group, we were given a quick orientation talk and sent home with our host families. The difference I felt between the night I arrived and the next morning after good sleep was phenomenal.
On living with a host family:
One of the biggest question-marks about this semester was the host family. Who are they? Will we get along? How will meals work? Will I need to check in with them if I am going to be home late? I had considered living in the residence halls, but after much urging from past participants I stuck with the homestay and so far am not regretting it. It's nice to have someone looking out for me in a foreign city. I live in a little apartment with a woman Dina and her 11 year old son, located less than 20 minutes from both downtown and the school. There is also a cat, named Kitty Cat, who just comes in my room and pokes around in my stuff. Sometimes it seems like a bit of a seedy neighborhood, but that's what real city life is about, right?
For the most part I am able to do my own thing; I spend a lot of time in my room because it's cold and I have a little heater in here. It's kind of like living with a friend you just met, where neither party is sure what to do with one another but both parties want the other to be happy. Sometimes I eat with them, mostly I am on my own for food, which brings me to...
On feeding myself:
Ever since I moved out of the dorms and away from the dining halls, feeding myself has been a struggle. I can never think ahead enough to be ready to eat when the hunger strikes. Last semester I was starting to learn my way around food, and then I got here. It's one thing to shop for myself in a huge, familiar, well-stocked grocery store. Put me in a situation where I can't read labels, don't know the brands, and there isn't an entire section of microwave meals and I am toast. And then there is ordering food in a restaurant. Again, no way to read the menu and therefore I have had my food arrive and it is not anything like what I thought I ordered more times than I can count.