Departure: 22-Jan-19:I had been counting down the days to this date for almost an entire year, knowing I'll be moving to Alicante, Spain, for four months. I kept telling myself that I am so excited and ready for the unexpected months to come, considering I had never been to Spain before. Crying when I said bye to my family was a definite expectation. As I boarded my 8-hour flight to Madrid, I knew I would be waking up in a new country and a new life.
Landing: 23-Jan-19:Getting off the plane, there were immediate differences. After stepping down the ladder to get off the plane, I had to lug my suitcase up about three flights of ramps that led to the actual airport gate. Once getting past Customs, which was actually the easiest part, I hopped on the train to my gate for my flight to Alicante: H,J,K gate according to the departure screen. Another difference is the SHOPPING! Europe practically teases you as you walk through shops of designer items before you can look at any type of departure screen. The most confusing part of the airport is that they only assign your gate about 30 minutes before your boarding time, so everyone waits in a large area until their gate is finally assigned.
Arriving in Alicante: 23-Jan-19:Once I arrived in my new home away from home, I waited for my suitcase... until a woman finally came to tell me that I have to go to "Gate 20-22" to get my U.S. baggage from Customs. Easy enough, I found my suitcase waiting for me on the carousel and headed towards the exit. Immediately, I felt comforted when I saw Adriana, my CEA advisor, waiting for me with a BIG smile on her face and she gave me an even bigger hug! That's when I got to meet five of the girls that were going to be my best friends for the next few months. We all dragged our oversized luggage to some taxis that Adriana had ordered for us to take us to the University of Alicante for our first night of orientation. Rather than moving us to our apartments right away, we spent the night in the Residence Hall "La Villa" for our first night; this was the best system because it allowed us to meet everyone in our program and eat in the dining halls!
The Home Stretch: 24-Jan-19:After an incredible chocolate croissant from the dining halls the next morning, Adriana gave us a tour of the campus. We stopped at the CEA office to meet another warm face, Alvaro! He proceeded to introduce himself, the program, and the look of our semester. I've never felt so at peace thanks to the two advisors who genuinely only cared about our comfort, happiness, and safety for the next four months. I knew I was in good hands. Later that afternoon, they moved us into our apartments and even came in to teach us everything about the place. Finally, I was home.
First thoughts:Although everything went smoothly with the transition, there were panic moments. In the Madrid airport, I did have some tears at the first realization that I am in a foreign country by myself. I had to keep telling myself, "It's only four months. Then I can go home." Even in the dorms when I was going to sleep, I kept thinking, "How am I going to get through this? Was this a mistake?" All of these thoughts were completely natural and the first sign of my transition into an "Alicantina." The beauty is that besides those few panic moments, I have never felt so safe and comfortable in a new place. Although I'm still scared at certain moments and miss friends and family, the people and the place make it all worth it. Only five days ago I was boarding my flight in Colorado, and I already have met some of my best friends and feel confident that this was truly one of the best decisions of my life.
Emilija Razma is the Spring 2019 CEA MOJO Blogger in Alicante, Spain, and is currently studying at Colorado State University.