Whether we like it or not, jet lag is often one of our first experiences abroad. No matter how well we plan, it is guaranteed to hit for us at least a day. This fortunately was not the case for me, because I was arriving from the Languge and Culture program in Seville. When I met our group of students, I shared mty tips for jetlag with them, and I think that most of them followed my advice.
In Madrid we stay at a hotel for the first night, where we can help our students transition into life in Spain. At the hotel we share meals, hold our orientation sessions, and take our students on short trips to get to know the Metro de Madrid—one of the largest metro system in Europe along with Paris and London. At the hotel, our students met their program leaders and the other students in their barrio groups. Our students are organized in two ways. Each one of these groups has one or two program leaders. First, they have groups based on where in the city they are living. These are their barrio (or neighborhood) groups. These groups do their cultural activities together.
During orientation we rotated between different stations: academics, telephones, housing, etc. Afterwards, we picked up a bag lunch and took them to a park, which we the program leaders selected. This was another opportunity for our students to learn how to use the Metro. PL Becky and I took our groups to Parque del Oeste, a park overlooking the western edge of the city along with the Royal Palace. Our groups worked together to successfully read the Metro map and guide us to our destination. There we ate our lunch and checked out the Templo de Debod (an ancient Egyptian temple that was dismantled and rebuilt in Madrid). After relaxing in the shade for a while, we returned back to the hotel to get ready to be picked up by our host families.