Madrid –> Zaragoza
By now I have arrived in Madrid, Spain, exchanged all of my cash for Euros and am officially considered a tourist and quite frankly, it didn’t take long for me to realize. Unfortunately, I didn’t have much time to allow myself to settle in. I had a train to catch just one hour after landing. The unfamiliar signs made navigating the airport difficult, and the sound of Spanish speaking made asking for help even more discouraging. I don’t know why, but I guess I expected things to be easier to adapt to. I realized that I had to adapt to more than just a new language, but an entirely new lifestyle.
This was the first test–a test that I would soon find out I was not prepared for. While at customer services, the receptionist pulled out a map, directed me to 5 places (3 of them circled), and sent me on my way. Completely ignorant of the station names and design of the train system itself, this map left me more confused than when I started.
Luckily for me, my first impression of Spanish was a great one! Although my Spanish is limited, I consider myself on an intermediate level which allowed me to ask a person passing by for help. I approached him in Spanish, which would be the language the convo continued on in. Although I spoke little Spanish and he spoke zero English, the man, Sergio, helped me as much as he could to help me get to where I was going, Zaragoza. As bystanders seen him doing his best to help me, they also chimed in to help me as well– two families, one who also spoke Spanish and happened to be going in my same direction.
After several train transfers and checkpoints, I made it to Atoche. Here I sat for 4 hours as I waited for my train to arrive. Although what would be considered a long wait, time flew as my eyes latched on to small details such as the advertisements placed throughout the stations or as my ears eavesdropped on different conversations, testing myself on just how well I could understand the language I’d soon be completely submerged in.