Well, folks, after many delays and some time travel-I am in the future now-I am at my final destination of Spain! Air France worker strikes and record-breaking winter storm Jonas certainly called for some traveling gymnastics. Thank you, Jonas. That’s two strikes against your name: excessive snow and the Jonas Brothers. (Apologies to anyone with Jonas-named loved ones.)
Speaking of loved ones, thank you all for taking the time to read my rants! I hope to keep them interesting. Specifically, I really want to bring the sounds of Spain to you. As a musician, sound is the key to happiness…or distress. A charming tune floating up from a nearby street musician is sometimes joy at its finest. Likewise, Justin Bieber singing the quadratic formula might lead to my premature death…Most importantly, I think lovers of music would agree with me that the most beautiful sound this world can contain is the voice of the closest, deepest person you know and love. Okay, end tangent. Needless to say, sound is very important in my life and I intend to share that experience with you! So, hopefully each week I will have a sound bite or two to bring Spain to your ears.
For this blog post, I want to talk about pre-Spain, because I’m still digesting the place and only just arrived! One of the most challenging aspects about preparing for this trip─besides deciding what precious few items of clothing I could bring─was obtaining a student visa. My dad and I had to go to Boston on a bus that left at 3:00AM to make it for my 9:15 appointment with the consulate. Here is a picture of everything one needs to get a visa! So many documents! Ironically I did not have to show anyone my visa when entering Spain. We spent a few hours wandering the pretty city of Boston, MA. Get this, on December 23rd, the trees were flowering. Anyone who thinks climate change is not real might consider visiting the trees in Boston.
After all the packing and errand-running and preparing, I set out for my first flight from Burlington, VT to the JFK airport in New York at 5:00AM. International airports can be stressful and zoo-like, but the beauty in the chaos is hearing the combination of all sorts of languages brush past your ears as you walk from terminal to terminal. Here are the sounds of the Oslo airport around 9:00AM. Try to pick out individual voices. Any guesses on the languages? Are you as jazzed as I am about that?! (Also my apologies for the sound quality being rather low. I am working on improving it!)
Having such lengthy layovers (6 hours in Oslo, and 4 in Copenhagen) gave me the chance to meet cool people. If such trends continue, as I expect they shall, I will include micro-bios in my blogs about the people I meet! Think Humans of New York meets Facebook profiles. So first up, Christian. Christian is a kind gentleman of about 30 who helped me find the correct ticket desk for the flight to Oslo. After getting our tickets, we spent the majority of our wait time in the JFK airport talking about all manner of things. He hails from Denmark and spent half a year finishing his masters in L.A. Excuse my socialist soapbox, but Denmark’s system is brilliant. Christian informed me that in addition to college being free, students receive $1000 each month as a stipend to encourage educational development. There are no homeless people, medical care is free, and Denmark has been rated the happiest country for the past 5 or 6 years.
My favorite quote from Christian was said when I mentioned that I would like to be a professor even though that sadly often translates to unemployable in the US. He wrinkled his face in surprise and said that he thought a teaching position was fairly easy to get and well-paid here. Oh no, friend. He was shocked and then said:
“In Denmark, teachers get paid very well because, you know, they are the ones who are shaping the future and you want the future to be good and well-educated.”
I might need to move to Denmark…All in all he was nice company and quite informative about Denmark and general European culture. But before I go to Denmark, I am beyond excited to be in Spain! Once the jetlag wears off (traveling for 33 hours is rough) and I am out of my state of disbelief, I will word vomit all about Spain. Until then, ¡saludos!