¡Hola! It’s me, Ryan, here to tell you all about my trip abroad! Well, the very beginning of it, at least. Yesterday, it was finally time for me to leave my hometown of Canton, Ohio and start my journey to Madrid for the UA in Spain: Language and Culture study abroad program. The day began at approximately 4:00am. I didn’t board my first flight of the day until about 9:30am. Why the early wake-up call, you may ask? Well, I knew I needed time to get ready, finish up with some last-minute packing, and make the hour-long drive to the Cleveland airport. Then, it was off to the airline check-in counter and security. I ended up being nice and early for my flight—almost too early—but hey, I’d rather be safe than sorry.

The flight from Cleveland only went as far as Charlotte, where I had a layover. The flight was great; no delays, no turbulence, and it took practically no time. Within just about an hour and ten minutes, I was in Charlotte preparing for my five-hour layover. I grabbed some lunch with a friend who is participating in the same program and was on the same flight. We window shopped in some of the stores in the Charlotte Airport, grabbed some smoothies, and then settled down at our gate for a few hours of chatting and reading. Another friend who flew into Charlotte on a different flight eventually joined us, and we started to steel ourselves for what was ahead of us: an 8-hour flight to Madrid.

I have to admit, I was intimidated by the thought of such a lengthy flight. An 8-hour car ride was bad enough, but a flight that long without an opportunity to stop and stretch and get some fresh air? I thought it was going to be brutal. But in all reality, it wasn’t too bad! We were served a meal for dinner within the first couple hours of the flight, and I was able to read and listen to music. I even watched a movie and attempted to get a little shut-eye (that last part didn’t go so well, but at least I tried). Towards the end of the flight, we were served a small breakfast, because although it was about midnight back in the eastern time zone, it was approaching 6am in our destination of Madrid.

After arriving at the airport this morning, the other program participants from my flight and I went through passport control and made our way to baggage claim. We then headed towards the exit to meet one of the study abroad program assistants, and after waiting for some other flights to get in, we hopped on a bus to our residence. I can say with all honesty that today has proven to me that jet lag is real—but my friends and I have been trying to beat it by staying up so we’ll be tired enough to fall into a regular sleep pattern tonight. We’ve done all sorts of things like exploring our residence building, grabbing a few essentials from a convenience store down the road, eating lunch, and walking around a beautiful park (pictured below) not too far from where we’re staying.

The journey to get here to Madrid was long, but it luckily went off without a hitch, and I can already tell that this trip is going to be one of the best experiences of my life! I can’t wait to share more with you about studying abroad throughout the next few weeks.

Hasta luego,