Baby Steps

Posted on September 7th, 2012 by

Now that everything has been settled It’s story time. My first and most dreaded blip occurred within minutes of getting off the plane. They lost my luggage. Before coming here, I wanted to do everything myself. In order to immerse I knew that it would have to hurt a little. For that purpose I had only put Spanish- English dictionaries in my carry-on thinking that I would stumble over the little Spanish that I knew to achieve my goals. But finding out they lost my luggage changed things quickly. There was only one person in front of me while I waited in line and I tried to listen to how the guy in front of me handled the process but their Spanish was so fast and indecipherable that less than a minute had passed and it was already my turn. I calmly told the lady that the airline lost my luggage, and then I was flooded with Spanish and paperwork. I tried to ask for her to explain but she didn’t understanding anything I was saying. With the 20-strong line of people breathing down my neck and years of Spanish skills going completely to waste I started to panic. I didn’t know what to do and felt rushed. I wasn’t sure if I would ever get my luggage. Luckily one of the program coordinators saw me struggling and crossed over to help. I had no idea what happened but I got a ticket with a phone number circled on it and then the program coordinator rushed me to a cab. The ride gave me a bit more confidence. The driver could decipher my Spanish and I was able to get to my house just fine. The next two days were mostly spent in haze, wandering the streets of Sevilla with the rest of the CIEE group in the same clothes that I had already been traveling in for 16 hours. I felt grimy and stinky and overwhelmed not only by the new sites and smells but by how little control I had over everything I was doing, particularly my luggage situation. Coming here, I wanted to dive in headfirst to life and culture in Spain but losing the simplest things you thought you had control over can make simple into impossible. I’m a little disappointed that I had to have my hand held as soon as I got here but I guess that’s exactly what I paid for: a comfortable trip.
After a two days of touring I found my luggage waiting for me in my home stay as if by magic. I guess I was supposed to give her my address so I’m grateful that the program coordinator did it for me. The relief I’ve been feeling to finally have my laptop and a change of clothes has never been so sweet. It has made breathing easier and my anxiety levels have dropped to zero. Although I believe it’s easy to live without, (living is only hard when you’re dead) putting that belief into practice has its own challenges. Two days of wearing the same sweaty clothes puts some things into perspective. I imagined “What if these were the only clothes I had? The only ones I could afford?” I know that for many this is true. It’s hard to look at yourself and say you are pampered. After this I can’t believe I ever had the thought that I wasn’t. Even now I can hardly imagine how much more I am taking for granted. For now I will appreciate the comfort I can afford with renewed vigor.



  1. sherick says:

    Sounds like your trip started off on a like/dislike scenario.

  2. Michael Patterson says:

    Well everything is a great big like, but like anything new, expectations have to be adjusted.

  3. Cathy says:

    glad you got a reality check son….those keep us humble…and allow us to grow….

  4. Jill, CICE says:

    thanks for sharing, Michael. i appreciate your thoughtfulness about your experience. look forward to reading about the rest of your story as you share it…