Today at 8 a.m., I touched down in the vibrant heart of Spain-Madrid! It’s been a day packed with thrilling firsts, each one a bold checkmark on my bucket list.

To start my day, my inaugural international adventure has begun, and guess what? My passport now proudly sports its very first stamp. Ordering food entirely in Spanish? Nailed it! Supported the local businesses by purchasing some fresh pastries at lunch and of course gelato for dinner! Did it spoil my dinner sure, but hey, it’s all a part of the adventure.

Meeting new people who are also on their first-time journeys has been incredible. Together, we’ve shared laughs, swapped stories, and witnessed each other’s milestones. I am lucky to share a dorm with so many great people who are now my neighbors. A common bond of the University of Alabama quickly bonded our group. Now taking on the streets of Madrid!

I won’t lie, I was pretty nervous this morning and the days leading up to my departure date. Stepping into a foreign land with no idea where to go and limited Spanish skills felt like jumping into the deep end. But as the day unfolded, so did my confidence. Each little victory, from navigating through the airport to successfully ordering tapas, felt like a triumph.

There are still many “firsts” ahead of me, and I can’t wait to dive into them. With a sense of accomplishment already under my belt, I’m excited to see what the rest of this trip will bring. New lessons, unexpected adventures, and more unforgettable experiences. Here’s to the next thrilling chapter! Roll Tide!!

-Ella Stiso