The Stairwell Adventure

I’ve been here for only one full day, and I’m already loving it. After I finished my last blog post, I met up with the four other UNC kids studying here in Pamplona. We convened at Brooke’s apartment, which is a 10-minute walk from mine. She and I both live very close to the university.

We hung out in her apartment for awhile, then accompanied Elizabeth to check out an apartment for rent. While she signed the paperwork, the rest of us had a beer in the Irish pub on the ground floor of her building. We ended up eating a late dinner there, too (late by American standards; 9:30 p.m. is on the early side for Spaniards). I had a basic sort of pasta dish with an alfredo sauce and tiny shrimp in it. Still waiting (salivating) for my first bowl of paella.

I bowed out early, pleading jet lag instead of going out to more bars with the others.

We had agreed to meet at a street corner on my block the next day at noon, so I woke up at 9:30 (surprisingly well-adjusted to the time difference) and ran a couple errands in the morning. Found some groceries, though I’ll have to look harder for some of my favorite foods like peanut butter (what is it with foreign countries not having pb?) and whole wheat tortillas (apparently whole wheat is an American thing, too).

I unsuccessfully tried to convert USD$500 to euros, because I didn’t have my passport on me when I took the cash to the bank. I’m almost out of the euros a friend (who had taken a trip to Germany) gave me last semester, so that’s still at the top of my to-do list.

Upon finding my UNC friends at noon, I met one of the guys’ flatmate Georgina, a girl our age from Athens. She doesn’t know Spanish but her English is very good.

yesterday’s crew: from L-R Trevor, Georgina, Alex, Brooke, Elizabeth, me

The six of us explored campus on foot, finding the Facultad de Comunicación aka communications building aka where my classes will be. Everyone else seemed content to admire the concrete exterior, but I tried the door, spoke to the security guard and won us all a personal tour of the building. We also met the director of the school’s radio show as well as the director of admissions to the school. And got our student ID’s!


the campus is beautiful- so much green even in winter! 
I forget which building this is
“en aire” con la Universidad de Navarra! 

My ID photo is disgusting; it was taken when I was hot and stressed running around in early September trying to complete my study abroad application in 24 hours because I had misunderstood the deadline. Also it’s distorted just enough that my face looks obese, no exaggeration. So as excited as I am to have a Spanish student ID, I’m hoping I can get it remade with a new photo. I’m conceited enough to pay for a new one — that’s how bad the photo is.

After checking out the gym and the “edificio central” (central building, where our orientation will be), we walked to a supermarket to pick up some basics and then to Alex’s apartment, where we planned to enjoy wine on his rooftop.

We dropped off our stuff in his living room, grabbed six plastic cups (classy huh) and started up the stairs — but before any of us had even reached the next floor, Alex shouted an expletive and we found out that everyone’s keys were locked inside the apartment — not only Alex’s and Georgina’s, but mine and Brooke’s as well. No one had a functioning phone on them, either.

Alex told us his roommate was supposed to return that evening, so we camped out where we were standing and spent a surprisingly fun two hours drinking in the stairwell. After two hours, the roommate (Max) still hadn’t shown up, so Alex and Elizabeth went on a failed mission to find wifi where they could send Max a Facebook message. They somehow didn’t find wifi, but did bring back food, so we had a picnic dinner in the stairwell.

Around 8:30, a young-looking dude walked out of the elevator and we excitedly asked if he was Max. No, he lived in the apartment next door. But, pitying our situation, he invited us in to his own apartment.

So then we spent an even more fun two hours talking in Spanish with this guy and his various roommates and friends who drifted in and out of the apartment. Right when I was saying that we should probably stop imposing on his hospitality, we heard from Max that he was due back at 11 p.m. Let the heavens rejoice! He showed up right on time (assuming you weren’t hoping for him at 6:30) and we all trudged home.

Lesson learned: being locked in a stairwell is really okay as long as you have the basics: wine, bread, cheese and good company.

The mountains are always visible on the horizon. Brooke and I have plans to go hiking soon!