Madrid, Toledo, Valencia. What a whirlwind first few days in beautiful Spain! The ISA orientation was a packed-full four days of touring, exploring, friend-making, Spanish-speaking, and jet lag aftermath. I don’t know about you, but I built up my first European experience so much in my head. Amid the nerves and hesitations that accompany traveling to a foreign country, there were imaginative scenarios and experiences that I thought of. Oftentimes when people do this, expectations are not reached. But you know what the best part is? My first experiences in Spain completely blew every expectation I had out of the Mediterranean water.
Speaking of water, my first introduction to Valencia was driving by the beach. Oh, what a beautiful sight! Level one of Traveler’s Euphoria. Looking out of the bus windows, I could almost feel the sand under my toes, the salty water brushing against my legs, the breeze blowing my hair. Eventually, our ISA group made it to the beach, and I was one of the first to run down to the water.
After arriving at our host-family’s apartment, my roommate and I quickly dropped off our bags and walked outside into the unknown neighborhood that would be our home. Cafés, restaurants, and fruit stands galore. It seemed that at every turn there were more outside tables with people simply sitting and drinking coffees and eating tapas. It was so comforting and new and exciting. I could see myself sitting where these café-frequenting Spaniards sat. Level two of Traveler’s Euphoria: seeing myself as a part of this new culture.
Meeting new friends and making plans to own the city at night and in free time is level three of Traveler’s Euphoria. The first few nights, there just wasn’t enough time to accomplish all that we wanted. Dressing up, exploring the cobblestone streets, getting lost with people I had just met … nothing beats the feeling of being in a group of people who are all in this together. Nothing beats exploring and finding ‘our’ place.
It is, might I say, euphoric to simply step back and realize that I am part of something so big: traveling and experiencing a new culture is important to everyone in different ways. There is so much excitement in the first few days and weeks of traveling abroad, and encapsulating it into words can be difficult. It is a feeling that every person experiences differently. For me, seeing new and beautiful nature, exploring neighborhoods, and making friends with my fellow travelers is my definition of euphoria.
- From Washington to Valencia: my first days abroad! (isastudentblog.wordpress.com)