100 years ago, crossing the Atlantic meant spending several weeks on a crowded steamship with hundreds of other passengers. The journey was arduous. Today, all it takes is a 6-10 hour flight on a twin-engine jet. Legroom favors the short (read: 3-foot tall hobbits and small children), and I’m not convinced that the food onboard has improved much, but you have to give those engineers at Boeing credit for figuring out how to move over 300 tons at 550 mph over such a distance – Charles Lindbergh would be impressed. That’s about as close as you can get right now to teleportation.
Crossing the Atlantic also meant entering into a new world, something that holds true to this day, whether you come from the East or the West. The sound of a young couple chattering excitedly in Castilian at the airport in Madrid alerted my tired mind to the fact that this is not Oregon. It’s not Kansas, either (sorry, Toto).
Madrid is a big place – at over 3 million people, it’s one of the largest cities in Europe. It’s nice to be able to spend the first few days of exploration with a posse of students, so we can get lost together. I’ll be spending most of the summer as a student at the University of Salamanca, west of Madrid. In the days and weeks to come, we will learn much about Spain – the language, customs, people, culture – and we will have opportunities to explore the country.
This blog is meant as a way for you to follow along in my travels. You won’t have to cross the Atlantic to do so, but I hope that it will give you some sense of my journey, and of life in Spain.