Beating Jet Lag the Siesta Way in Spain

Rachel Wadsworth is a student at the College of Charleston and an ISA Featured Blogger. Rachel is currently studying abroad in Valencia, Spain on an ISA Year 1 program.

It was surreal to step off the plane in Madrid Thursday morning fifteen hours after leaving Newark airport when I had only been traveling for nine hours. We flew all night and of course I hadn’t slept more than an hour and a half. I was too excited to settle down, so I spent the better part of the flight talking to the Portuguese and Hungarian guys next to me. When we arrived in Madrid, two ISA staff members, Bárbara and Raquel, scooped us up and brought us to the hotel. Of course, the only thing on our minds at that point was food, so we hit the ground running—almost literally—off to lunch.

It didn’t hit me how tired I was until that afternoon around 4:00 pm. So, naturally, I ignored every piece of advice I had gotten thus far about managing jet lag and took a little siesta. What can I say—I was determined to adjust to the Spanish lifestyle immediately. That night, we went to dinner around nine o’clock (which is still early for Spaniards) and talked until midnight. I wanted to get some sleep, but I much preferred getting to know my new friends. The next day we had an amazing tour of El Prado and the Reina Sofia museum. After lunch—you guessed it—I took another siestita. The orientation was really a blur. We were busy all day, every day. After spending two days in Madrid, we went to Toledo for a day, and finally arrived in Valencia.

I’ve been in Valencia for ten days now and have taken a siesta just about every day. It might sound excessive, but the extra hour of sleep during the afternoon allowed me to adjust to the Spanish timetable of staying up until 1:00am on a normal night. I haven’t once felt too exhausted to participate in the activities ISA has planned or to go explore the city with friends. I know that everyone will tell you, future study-abroad-er, that in order to beat jet lag, you must force your body to stay awake. That just isn’t the case, for me at least. I did my best to adjust to my new Spanish lifestyle as quickly as possible, and that included siestas. So far so good! I think I’ll keep up with it.

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