Final Countdown (You're Singing It Now, Aren't You?)

Salt Lake City Travel Blog

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The countdown is on!  Twenty-three hours to take off and I am running around like my head was sewn on backwards.  The past few days have been absolutely nuts…you wouldn’t believe all the stuff you have to do – at least as a completely independent adult – before you leave the country for five months.

Suspending Life: It sounds easy to notify all of your financial institutions, but I am so done with being on hold for an hour every single time I make a phone call.  I’ve finally contacted all my banks, changed travel strategies, limits, so that’s all done.  Tax season has begun and of course I can’t receive my W2 in Spain, and many of my other tax documents are arriving at various addresses (previous employers still haven’t changed my address), so trying to set up plans to collect those while I’m gone has been buckets of fun, too.  Somehow my payroll isn’t direct depositing, so two paychecks will need to be deposited, along with a student loan check.  I’ve suspended my cell account so I will have my phone number when I get back, but making sure it will be usable for a day while in Spain if needed has been a fun fiasco.  I even went to Smith’s grocery and asked for my $25 reward credit in cash since I won’t be able to use it on grocery.  There are so many little things that you wouldn’t even think of…all done.  I think I’m a bit OCD.  Once I get there I won’t care about any of these smaller unimportant things.

Travel: Back when I bought my plane ticket last April, it was much, much cheaper to fly into Madrid.  That is not the case now (after paying to reinstate my plane ticket, it’s about $600 cheaper to fly directly into Oviedo), but I still have a ticket to Madrid.  I’m really excited to be able to sit back and see some of the Spanish countryside on my way to Oviedo, but trying to plan the best manner to get there has been crazy.  I finally decided on a bus, and I pre-booked my seat for six hours after I arrive in Madrid, hoping that there won’t be any delays or customs that keep me from making my trip.  The bus ride is just a little over six hours, and cost about $60 USD for a ‘first class’ seat (‘normal’ seats weren’t available until an overnight trip, and I thought the price was very fair).  This was also great because the bus leaves from an airport terminal before heading to the main station, so I don’t have to find my way around Madrid with all my luggage and no clue.  I leave Salt Lake tomorrow morning at 7:10am (have to be at the airport at 5am), have two layovers, and get into Madrid on Saturday at around 8am.  After customs and whatnot, I wait around until 2:30pm to hop on a bus to Oviedo and arrive at 8pm, just a few blocks from my new home.  With time changes, that’s about 30 hours of travel.  Fun!

Purchases:  Before you leave, you realize all the things you need or may need, or want, or that will be handy.  What if I get stains on my shirts and I can’t find others?  Will I walk everywhere or bus…do I need new shoes?  What if my bra gets washed and snaps? (Hey…when you’ve got it, it’s a concern…)  My host mom is doing my laundry…do I feel my under things merit any sort of snarky comments?   (When you’re Mormon, and everything you wear closest to your body is white, it has all turned shades of blue and gray from new jeans and hot sunny days!)  I’ve purchased a slew of boring-and-new (and clearance! each $5 or less) solid v-neck shirts and camisoles, new bras (men, these are not cheap), new g’s, new socks,  new walking/running shoes, adapters and voltage converters (by the way, I ordered them online and they won’t arrive until three hours after I leave…), Spanish scriptures, and the biggest purchase: my new camera, the ever-so-amazing FujiFilm x10.  (I’m a little stressed that I am just learning how to use it and all the features, but it’ll be great!)

Packing: Nightmare!  I over pack when I visit Michigan for two weeks because the weather is unpredictable and I always want to be prepared.  Can you imagine my dilemma at the moment, trying to pack for five months?  When I go to Michigan, I end up wearing the same small rotation.  I have a feeling that will be the same in Spain, and I’m trying to keep it simple.  I’m glad I’m not a trendy person, because I don’t have to worry about huge shoes or jewelry to go with everything.  I do wonder if there are places to shop over there that have an offering a pleasantly plump girl like me…I’m sure there are fat people in Spain, so probably, but a girl has got to wonder.  Because I’m assuming clothes shopping would be harder for me, I feel the need to pack more.  I’m not bringing things I can buy there – that is, except for deodorant!  I will not be stuck without the antiperspirant factor in my daily d.o.!  (The cashier at Target gave me the best look when I when through her line with five sticks of deodorant…hey, a girl needs to be fresh!)  I’m not concerned about fitting it all in the suitcase because I’m a master packer, but I am concerned about the weight of my bag.  I’m packing one suitcase inside of another so I only have to carry one, but will have an empty one for the trip home.  That’s seven to ten pounds right there, and a smaller packing space.  I’m bringing the small wheelie carry-on, too, but I’m shoving my backpack in it, my laptop, all vital items, and some clothes in it, too, so space is all claimed.  Little things…my laptop is starting to kick the bucket, so I think it smart to bring the backup discs/restore discs, software and manual for my new camera, etc.

Purging: I’m subleasing (subletting?) my room to a really awesome new friend, which helps both of us financially and helps me keep sanity when I return.  However…I’m looking at this as an opportunity to get rid of all the stuff I’ve accumulated and hauled around for the past few years.  I came to Utah with two suitcases of clothes and somehow I have an entire room and storage area of stuff (that’s where my paychecks went!).  I’m a bit of a hoarder, keeping tons of papers of recipes and work outs and letters and cards and notes from Church and old conference talks that were meaningful to me, crafting materials, along with you-wouldn’t-believe-how-many beauty/personal hygiene products…I always want to be prepared for myself, for others, for gift giving.  The honest truth is, if I haven’t used it in six months, will I use it in five more?  Nope.  You’d think it’d be so easy just to throw out everything then…but knowing I purchased something, and that I may use it if I get a creative spark…or opening boxes anyway so I don’t throw out something important (found a couple things) has been really time consuming.  Even the clothes I’m not taking with me, I want to store…but I bet if I donate them to D.I. I won’t even remember them when I come back.  I want to simplify.  The only things I ever use are clothes, books, and DVDs, and the only things important in life are family, friends, and strangers on your path, so really, it all needs to go.  Stressful process, nonetheless.  I’ve also given away cupboards of food ‘storage’ that could potentially go bad or get infested with weevils (that happened to our food last summer)…don’t want to deal with that when I get home.

Language: Yes, I’m a Spanish major.  Yes, I took six years off of school before starting again a year ago, so my Spanish is very rusty.  I keep having nightmares that I get chastised for going to Oviedo because my Spanish isn’t good enough (you have to have three years of college Spanish to go…I’ve had much more than that…because it’s not a language-learning-focus but just normal university classes).  I’ve always been so excited to go places and learn languages…life dream!  But…I feel like I’ve forgotten basics.  If you were to give me directions, I’d probably stare at you and process for five minutes.  At the same time, just e-mailing Alejandra, I’ve noticed my Spanish naturally falling into place, too.  I am concerned that I will only deter myself and not loosen up, so I’m mentally prepping for that.

Emotional Items of Business: I still don’t understand why I’m in the middle.  I’m finally more often excited, but some moments I’m nervous and feel like I’m going to be sick in front of thousands of people.  Reading my old journals about wanting to go abroad hasn’t really helped.  I’m excited to go to Spain and just grasping for something I can claw at to catch on to feel that cool anthropologist-esque sort of feeling I used to have (last seen in my Global Citizen class last summer).  I think perhaps this whole process is just nerve-racking, but once I’m off the bus in Oviedo, meet my mom, Alejandra, and my ‘sister’, Nerea, and have a bed to face-plant into, I’ll be great.  I’ll have ten days to walk around and explore (maybe that’s too much free time…), and then I’ll get my class schedule and have a routine, which will be great.  I had a good-bye party last Saturday, but it seems that mission wasn’t accomplished…still trying to squeeze in that last-minute fun-fest with various people and have a lot of phone conversations.  Most of all, I’ve been trying to spend as much time with Ethan as possible.  Luckily the semester is fresh so Pharm school isn’t totally eating him alive yet.  He’s taking me to the airport in the morning, so I get him to the end.  I only see my parents once a year, so it’s not gut-wrenching to leave them…and in fact, they are such a calming influence.  When I talk to them, I feel grounded and like life is just happening, like the cycle is how it should be.  When people talk to me, I feel like I’m dying or something.  I’m coming back, you know.  And Skype is awesome.  (Though, let’s be honest, I’ll be in Spain…how much time am I really going to be spending on Skype?  It would be such a waste.)

Just a few things racing through my mind as this all wraps up.  I best cut the emo and get to the important things…like reaching my goal of having everything done by 6pm tonight so I can enjoy a dinner with friends and share in the love!

Catch you on the other side of the pond! …where the posts are guaranteed to be much more thrilling, full of stories of ridiculous travel hang ups, and pictures that will make you envious.

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