Hi there, welcome to my blog! This first post recounts the day I arrived in Spain last August, where I would be living for the next five months…


August 8, 2015:

So, here we are. We have arrived in Spain. And yes I do mean we, not just I, because I have traveled here with my entire family. Although college students decide to study abroad for a variety of reasons, I am fairly certain a significant motivator is the promise of independence; one can spend at least a few months frolicking around foreign countries while separated from his or her parents (if not all family members) by a large body of water. The Wheeler’s foolproof plan, however, was to ease me into my semester in Spain by converting the trip to my homestay into an elaborate family vacation… because everyone knows holidays with the entire family are inherently stress-free.

I’m going to glaze over the majority of the catastrophe that was our voyage across the Atlantic because I don’t want you all to experience a plot twist in which this blog post becomes a tragedy novel. Just please know, sparing all the painful details, that getting to Spain was an absolute nightmare. A few highlights include spending 12+ hours in Logan airport due to delays, almost taking off in a plane with faulty electricity (safety first!), and a nail-biting episode of The Hunger Games: Airport Edition, where the rebooking process for our cancelled flight of 200+ passengers was first-come-first-serve at the ticketing booths on the complete opposite side of the airport. I’m not sure which is more formidable, a group of very angry Bostonians or a group of very angry Spaniards. I’ll keep you posted on that. Basically, in so few words, it was no bueno.

I somewhat blacked out the part where we actually got to Barcelona, I think my mind will be actively suppressing those memories for quite some time. I do remember quite vividly, however, arriving at the rental-car lot to find that my father had managed to reserve for us, without exaggeration, a bus. Not a car, a bus. A large, shiny, silver, stick-shift bus. It was his clever little surprise for the family so that we would all have, I quote, “leg room”. Unfortunately, this turned out to be not quite as ingenious as previously imagined. Keep in mind the roads in Spain, if not in all of Europe, are designed suitably for Fiats and Smart Cars, not for a 10-seat clunker driven by a severely jetlagged American. If any of you have ever played Mario Kart to some extent, this 2-hour drive up to the tiny coastal town of Roses was reminiscent of the “Moonview Highway” level, if the creators of the game had shot up steroids before inventing a bonus lap in a foreign language.

After this extremely tense expedition we finally barreled into the narrow, coiling, cliff-edged driveway of the resort at about 100 km/h. My dad fiendishly slammed down the brakes of the bus just seconds, literal inches, before careening us into the massive glass French-door entrance. The valet attendant was quite startled—I have a feeling they are much more accustomed to the arrival of posh French and German couples in little sports cars, not boisterous American families. He scurried over to us in a very distressed state and asked in crisp English if we needed help parking the “vehicle”. My father, swelling with pride, began attempting to jam the gear back into reverse while muttering “I’ll just do it, let me try ONE more time, atta girl, I’ve got her now, c’mon baby” as the bus sputtered angrily and teetered ever-more precariously towards the thousand-dollar foyer. After a few uncomfortable moments of shift-jamming and muttering-turned-shouting at the gears, my dad delicately and gracefully accepted defeat: “I WOULD BE ABLE TO DO IT IF IT WASN’T FOR MY GOD-D*MN SHOULDER PAINS!!!” The attendant flashed him a patronizing smile as he slid behind the wheel and effortlessly reversed into a flawless parking job, safely distancing the steel elephant from anything expensive.

The Steel Elephant was last modified: July 15th, 2016 by awheeler