Letters From Abroad: An Elusive Bus Stop

Emily Fineberg ’15, Abroad Columnist

I’m writing this towards the end of my third week abroad in Málaga, Spain. I’ve learned when the game shows are on TV, what the local supermarket does and doesn’t sell, and how to make myself coffee. However, I haven’t quite learned where I live.

Allow me to clarify that statement. I’ve known my host family’s address for a few months. I know which buses stop nearby and how to walk from my host family’s home to the bus stops. The part I don’t know is what the stops are called.

On my first full day in Spain, all of the Dickinson students met in the center of town for a welcome dinner. My host mom told me that when coming home, I was to get off the bus at the stop next to the Gody shoe store. As I discovered that night, the bus stop isn’t called “Gody shoe store,” so I have to hope that I see the store in time to get off the bus at the right stop or get off at the next stop. I’ve ridden the bus home about ten times since that night and have never been able to notice the store in time. It’s getting annoying.

At this point, you might be wondering why I haven’t figured out the name of the bus stop yet. For one thing, the map at the bus stop lists the stops on the route in groups; while the group gets a “you are here” sticker, the individual stop does not. For another thing, the bus route map left here by the Dickinsonian who lived with my host family last semester is confusing because the stops are very close together (admittedly, as in real life). Lastly, even though the bus has a screen that shows the name of the next stop, I’ve never figured out the name of my stop. I always miss the shoe store and then have to worry about getting off soon, rather than paying attention to the name of the stop displayed as we approach the shoe store. So while I’m sure I will eventually learn the name of the stop, it hasn’t happened yet.

Does all this mean, as I stated in the beginning of this column, that I don’t know where I live? It might not seem that way, since I know my actual address and can find my way home once I get on the bus.

However, not knowing the name of my bus stop means that I don’t know how to direct someone to my host family’s home. It means that I can’t properly identify where I live beyond “Málaga.” In short, part of what should make this my new home is missing.

I know that I’ll eventually figure out what the bus stop is called. In fact, I can already picture myself re-reading this column and laughing at how confused I was. I’ve accepted that it’s part of adapting to this new life. I just wish it’d happen a bit faster so I didn’t have to mumble angrily to myself every time the bus sails by the shoe store.