Every once in a while, you have a day where you try something new. Whether it is a new type of food, looking at a math question in a different way, or anything in between, you undoubtedly gain new insight from that previously unfamiliar experience. This past week, I have tried a lot of new things. Flying on an airplane, leaving North America, and living in a foreign country are at the top of my “new experiences” list!
Before I get too far, let me introduce myself. My name is Blake Peterson, and Luci Sena and I are the two students that are participating in one of JCC’s international internship opportunities for the spring semester! For the next three months, we are going to be living, teaching, and learning in Valladolid, Spain.
As with any trip, planning is half the battle. However, everyone involved with this experience at JCC has made this process nearly flawless with assistance in filling out paperwork, providing directions for purchasing plane tickets, and setting up the internship itself with United Cultures S.L., in addition to other aspects of our adventure.
This past Saturday, myself, Luci, Heather Espeso (the director of United Cultures), along with her children Juliette and Jake, departed for Valladolid. We left the Erie airport at 11:20 a.m., bound for Philadelphia. Flying was my first of many new experiences. If you have never flown before, I definitely recommend it over long car rides. As fun as road trips can be, flying saves time, money, and is actually even statistically safer than driving. The flight to Philadelphia was only an hour and a half long, and it was nothing compared to the seven hour layover and seven and a half hour flight to Madrid (for those of you that are math people like me, that is more than 22 hours of traveling, if you include the six hour time difference). After successfully making it to Philadelphia, the first leg of our journey was over, but there was still much more to come.
As the layover finally came to a close, we boarded the plane (a MUCH larger plane) that was set to take us across the ocean to the Madrid airport. After departing from Heather and her kids in the Madrid airport, Luci and I had to make it to Valladolid. Although we intended to take the bus, we soon discovered that the next bus to Valladolid was not going to leave until 2:45 that afternoon. Because it was only 9 A.M., we took our chances and successfully figured out the train system with our limited Spanish vocabulary (I consider mine to be more limited than Luci’s, but I’m learning!). Although we missed our train stop, we were soon able to get back where we were supposed to be and catch the transferring train with plenty of time to spare!
At the Valladolid train station, we met our host families. My family has 5 members: my host father, Julio, my host mother, Carolina, and three sisters, Carolina, Claudia, and Lucia. They are all quite fluent in English, especially my sister Carolina because she has spent the past two summers in the United States in Warren, PA! (By the way, if you are interested in hosting a Spanish student for a month in the summer, get in contact with me because Heather is always looking for host families for her students!) They live in a neighborhood that is about 5 miles away from the center of the city. They are so great, and they are just as excited about having me here as I am being able to be here!
In the few days that I have been here, I have had many traditional Spanish foods, gone to Holy Mass, had tapas, figured out the bus system (more or less) with the help of my sister Claudia, caught up on sleep, and have even had two English classes already! I have experienced so much in the past four days, and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the next three months has in store for me!