At long last I’ve arrived in Madrid! I’m staying in a suburb of the city called Tres Cantos with the families of two friends that I met four years ago when I did an exchange program in high school. I am really happy (as are my parents) to be staying with families instead of in a hotel. Not only is it safer and less expensive, it will also do wonders for my Spanish skills!

I forgot how difficult it is to speak and understand a foreign language while jet-lagged, but I’m trying my best. Hopefully tomorrow will be easier.

World Cup fever is rampant here; it seems like every single TV channel is covering the games, interviewing players, and making conjectures about Spain’s odds of winning the whole thing. Tomorrow night is the big game: Spain vs. Germany. Admittedly, I am not much of a soccer fan, but it is impossible not to be excited about tomorrow’s festivities.

Today has been a relatively quiet day. I ate breakfast when I got here and hung out with Sergio, the friend I am staying with, and his brother Miguel. Around 3 pm, after a long nap, we ate lunch. Eating schedules here are different from those back home. Here they eat a light breakfast of cookies or pastries and coffee with milk, a huge late lunch around 2 or 3, and a very late light dinner. Good thing I packed a month’s supply of granola bars! I tend to get hungry at all hours of the day so I have a feeling those will come in handy.

Well, less about my eating habits and more about my research: The purpose of my coming to Spain is to research how people with disabilities are viewed in Spanish society: how they are treated, what opportunities they have, what barriers they face.

My plan is to talk with young adults, both disabled and not, to gain a better understanding of their views of and experiences with disabilities. I am also scheduled to talk with several organizations including advocacy groups like Special Olympics and job placement agencies that work toward independent living for people with disabilities.

I have spent several months preparing interview questions, establishing contacts, and brushing up on the vocabulary I’ll need on this trip, so hopefully everything works out as planned. Here goes nothing!

Hasta pronto!