January 23

Every day I wake up I experience the weirdest feeling. I open my eyes thinking I’ll see my bedroom in Athens and wake up from this dream of a trip. Didn’t happen today. Luckily I still have three months left.

I woke up to Joe telling me we had thirty minutes until checkout. Luckily Ryan had the foresight to suggest we pack the night before so all I needed to do was take a quick shower and lug my bags down the three flights of stairs to the lobby. I got on the bus eagerly, excited about the prospect of going to another city.

I took a window seat next to a really cool girl named Caroline from Charleston. I have really enjoyed taking every opportunity that presents itself to try and meet someone new. While I have only known some people for four days, I have developed some really good relationships. We all got situated and at last we were headed to Valencia! As we started our trek out of Madrid I noticed there are no suburbs (which I think is a pretty common theme for all of Spain). Once you leave the actual city, there is an area of low income, high-rise apartments and after that, there is nothing but highway until the next city. I can’t get over how beautiful everything is. Simple little things like a grassy pasture or a small farm storage barn look plain to anyone that has grown up here but to a foreigner they are so scenic.

I was pretty exhausted from the night before so I had little trouble passing out. About an hour and a half later I woke up to the bus getting off the exit toward a rest stop called Area 175. Everyone that was hungry grabbed some food or drink and we hung out there for about thirty minutes. The french fries were delicious. After we had finished, we all loaded back on the bus. For the last two hours of the ride we all talked together and joked about just about everything. Liza, a phi mu from Columbus, started a game of “would you rather.” The funniest situation that Liza said was, “Would you rather burp rainbows or fart confetti?” I think I’d choose the confetti. The comic relief made the trip go pretty quick.

At last we had reached Valencia! Our bus got as close as it could to our dorm as we could. We unloaded at a roundabout in la Plaza de la Reina about a half mile down a small street from our dorm. It was definitely a LONG half-mile; my arms felt like Jello after carrying everything that far. We all packed in the lobby of the dorm, el Rector Peset and anxiously waited to get our room keys. This dorm puts every UGA dorm to shame. The dorm is two buildings connected by an outdoor courtyard. As we received our keys we were funneled one by one out to the courtyard where about twenty-five students showered us with a round of applause. We had to scream our names to them and they all applauded.

It was so cool. It kind of broke the uneasiness about being here and allowed us to meet some really nice people too. A lady showed us to our room. Most of the guys have a first floor room; we have an entire wing of the dorm just for us. Our rooms are humongous and each one has a bathroom too. Everyone was so excited to get such a cool setup with our rooms that I kind of felt like a kid in a candy shop. Everyone that came into our room said we had one of the biggest which was pretty good.

After about twenty minutes we all met in the lobby and got a grand tour. There is a whole floor of study lounges, a gym (on our floor), two living rooms and a cafeteria. The rest of the night we had nothing scheduled to do. A few of us decided we would explore a little and look for a Corte Ingles to buy some simple necessities for the room like shampoo.

When we left, the sun had just gone down and the city had come alive. It is beautiful. Our dorm is situated right in the heart of the city. Valencia has a very similar style of architecture but since it is a coastal town there are huge, well lit palm trees that line the streets. It sounds cheesy but it really is breathtaking. Corte Ingles had a very similar layout as the one we went to in Madrid. We went to the basement to the supermarket, bought our supplies and headed back toward the dorm to grab some dinner. After I got back, I set up my Internet connection on my computer and got to call everyone. Laura and I got the chance to Skype and actually talk to each other for the first time since I had left.

I was nervous about the food. People that had gone on the same trip last spring said that the food was pretty awful. In the cafeteria there is a counter where two ladies stand and serve food. Every meal has two options for the main course so it was pretty easy to find something that I could eat. Much to my surprise the food was awesome. I had some really good vegetable soup and with bread.

I headed back up to the room and got ready to go out. A few people came to my room and we hung out for a while before some of the Spanish students invited us to a bar close to our dorm. The bar was extremely small but had the best prices on beer that I have seen so far. It was only two euros for a pint of Amstel or Guiness. The Spanish students have exams going on right now but there were still a good bit of people that took a break from studying and came to meet us. I really enjoy talking to the students because it’s a good way to learn the popular slang expressions. We all hung out there for about two hours; as some of the Spaniards started to leave, we all decided we wanted to find a Discotheque. We went to a huge bar that I didn’t catch the name of but it was absolutely packed. The dance floor was huge and we all migrated that way.

The rest of the night out was a blur, we danced and met so many people including some Americans from just outside Indianapolis. We all headed back to the dorm around four. Some of the Spanish students were playing xbox in one of the living rooms. They didn’t play FIFA, they played another soccer game that was very similar but had different game controls. The night was awesome. All of my thoughts about Valencia were way surpassed. I can’t wait until I know my way around!

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