Let the Adventures Begin!

Hello everyone, and welcome to my blog! It is nearing the end of day one here in Avila, and what a day it has been! This whole adventure began in the Fall semester when I began the extensive application process for the Smith Fellowship Program. After two rounds of applications, many e-mails to Spain, and countless conversations with my Spanish professor, the selection committee graciously awarded me one of the 2013 Smith Fellowships. As I sat in the airport waiting to board the plane, the reality started to set in that I was on my way to Spain for seven weeks.airport
The plane ride was long, as was expected. The man sitting next to neglected to say hello, the little girl behind me kicked my chair the entire way to Madrid, and my legs were restless for sitting for so long, but none of that mattered because I was on my way. No turning back now! After a long flight, my nerves were eased when I saw a familiar face. Who would have guessed that Beth would be on the same flight, just a few seats across from me? It really is true what they say; you can find fellow Friars everywhere you go, and I literally mean anywhere.
From the airport I caught a cab to the airport. I was so anxious to get to the train station that I was ready to grab the taxi right outside the baggage claim. I quickly learned, however, that you are apparently supposed to go to the cab at the front of the line. Learn something new every day! At the train station I proudly bought my first Spanish train ticket, all by myself. The train was running a bit late and as I nervously waited for the platform number to appear on the board, I noticed that I was the only one who appeared the slightest bit anxious. First reality check: people in Spain are not obsessed with checking the time like in the States. It will all get done in due time.
Exhausted from travel, the train ride was a leisurely jaunt through the Spanish country side. On the train, I met an adorable elderly couple who live in Madrid and spend their summers in Avila. They pointed out a beautiful monastery that they insisted I visit during my time here. The women even said that I should write it down so I do not forget. They also told me about the summer fires in the plains as we passed by the expansive landscape. I also met a university professor from Texas and a couple who had walked for thirty-five days across Spain!
From the train station, a quick taxi ride brought me to my final destination: Avila. 3 After a quick power nap, I went to lunch, where I met two awesome ladies. A college professor from New York is here with a group of students and a teacher from Colorado is here completing a teaching internship and graduate work. In the afternoon, one of my new friends was gracious enough to show me around the city. 2 We went to see the Basilica of the Martyred Saints Vincent, Sabina, and Cristeta. Under the Basilica there is a stunning statue of the Virgin Mother. Legend has it that the statue dates back to the time when the Muslims invaded Spain and the statue was hidden underground for safekeeping. St. Theresa and St. John of the Cross both had a devotion to this Virgin of the Soterraña (meaning underground). Then, after tasting my first Yema (candy made especially in Avila, with lemon, sugar, and egg yolk), we went to see St. Teresa’s relics. My personal favorite was her ringed finger!
After a trip to the local market and dinner at the residence hall, my new companions and I went to get ice cream. It was a lovely way to end a beautiful and event-filled first day!


3 thoughts on “Let the Adventures Begin!

  1. Hola Melissa: Bien hecho. Gracias por compartir tus aventuras con nosotros. Que Dios te bendiga mucho más en tu vida con las aventuras y experiencias formativas. Fray David Thomas Orique, O.P. (Providence College)

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