Planes, Spain, and Automobiles

Like any other study abroad trip that thousands of students are experiencing throughout the country, my day started with a connecting flight to one of the country’s biggest airports, the Minneapolis International Airport. This was the start of a very long journey: not just the day-long flying that would eventually land me in Málaga, Spain, but the journey that awaited me there.

A picture taken while on my flight from Minneapolis to Amsterdam.

Befriending a Swede Along the Way

My connecting flight from Pittsburgh, PA, my college town, to Minneapolis went relatively smoothly, with no major bumps along the way. However, just when I thought my 16 hours of flying would go smoothly, the biggest roadblock of all loomed. My flight from Minneapolis to Amsterdam had been delayed for four hours! For a moment, thinking my life is over and I should just go back home, and the delay was my bad omen, I headed for food, of course. While trying to grab food, I met a lady with a peculiar accent. She told me she was from Sweden and came to the United States to visit family. We instantly bonded over our frustration about the flight situation, and she unofficially adopted me for the time being. Just to preface, I’m guessing she was around fifty years old based on the age of her children, however, I could be wrong because she didn’t look a day over thirty-five; I have an inkling that it must be the free healthcare. Within the next four hours, we started to talk about the similarities and differences between the U.S. and Sweden. I realized while we were talking, how many ways in which we were different; little things such as screen doors in the summer don’t exist in Sweden. I knew our money, government systems, and even our electrical sockets were different, but I never expected something like the nonexistence of screen doors to have such an effect on me. The shock became even more shocking when we started to talk about food, my favorite topic. I brought up one of the most popular places to eat on campus, Chipotle, and her face contorted into confusion; she had no idea what I was talking about.

I knew coming into this experience that I would interact with people that didn’t know my norms, and I the same with theirs. However, I didn’t know it would happen so quickly while still on American soil. The realization had set in; this trip is not going to just be a study abroad, learning in a classroom, and making new friends within the program, it was going to be an experience that opened my eyes to the norms, experiences, and everyday lives of cultures and people I had never experienced before. You could never put a price on that.

This picture shows the beautiful architecture that I can find right outside of my residencia in Málaga, Spain.

Since I’ve finally arrived in Málaga, I choose this photo to showcase the beauty of the outside architecture of the residencia that I am currently staying in while studying abroad. In the upcoming month, I hope to be opening and looking through various windows of life while exploring the rich culture of Málaga, Spain.

Emma Knutty is a student at University of Pittsburgh and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is studying with ISA in Malaga, Spain.

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