It’s About TIME!

No, literally. This post is all about time. Pretty clever pun, huh?



(Photo copyright of Erika B. Austin)

Anyway, there are three topics I would like to share with you today regarding TIME: military time, time zones and my time schedule/daily routine while travelling and staying in Europe. All three of these topics are things I’ve been pondering, worrying about, thinking about, or planning over the past few months. 

First of all, military time is something I need to get used to while abroad. In practically every other country except the United States, this form of telling time is used (Or at least I think so!) For anyone who may be unfamiliar with military time, it’s basically a way of getting rid of A.M and P.M. The 24 hours in a day are referred to as such–24 hours. Not 12 with a.m or p.m. following. For example, midnight would be 00:00 because it is the very beginning of a new day. 1:00 a.m. would be 01:00, and so on. That means that 1:00 pm would actually become 13:00 because 12:00 noon + 1:00 p.m.= 13:00. Get it? So, 8:00pm = 20:00, 10:15pm=22:15 and so on. 

If you think about it, it just makes more sense. It eases all confusion when talking about time because instead of saying, “Let’s meet at 7:00”, which could mean A.M. or P.M. for us, they could instantly let their friend know what time of day they are referring to just by saying the number. Another thing is that for store hours, it’s easier to write the military time than have to keep clarifying morning and afternoon. 

So what does this all have to do with my trip? Well, since I’m going to Europe and planning around their schedules I need to get used to this method. I’ve already had to do some conversions in my head while booking hostels, plane tickets, train tickets and so on. It’s a work in progress, but it’s something I definitely needed to consider! Otherwise, if I had booked a flight for 7:00 and I thought it was in the evening instead of the morning, I would be late–and THAT would be a problem. So the lesson here is that if you are ever going out of the country, be sure to consider military time. 

While I remember, I should also mention the importance of giving yourself PLENTY of time between flights and travel obligations like hostel check-ins to sight-see, get ready, check-in to places, travel from place to place and so on. This is because 1) there are many unforeseen circumstances such as traffic or delays, or just plain getting lost that could get in your way of making it to your destination in time. 2) Checking-in at airports is a very lengthy process so you need to plan accordingly. I for one do not want to be constantly running around stressed and nervous about being late to my next destination. I want to enjoy the travel experience and since I am a first-time traveler, I’ll need all the time I can get to prepare and find my way around. 

Another topic worth mentioning is time zones. While planning flights and transportation, it’s important to plan around these time differences. Luckily, travel websites do a lot of this automatically for you as you book your flights. For example, I thought there was something wrong with my flight booking when it said that my flight would take 11 hours but it showed me arriving about 4 hours later (on my way back to the states). Then someone told me about the whole time zone thing and I slapped my head and said, “Shoulda had a V8”. 

Being in Madrid for this semester, I will be 6 hours ahead of U.S. time. As I am writing this post, it is 3:30 pm (OR 15:00, if using military time!) and it is 9:30 pm in Madrid (21:00–sorry, I need to practice!). That means I need to remember that while planning instant messaging/Skype dates with friends and family back home. Luckily, I’m an early riser so the best time for me would be about 6-8am Spain time, which would be 12:00am-2:00am U.S. time, for all you night owls! Also, I could even plan times between classes while there. Ughhhh, I forgot that I actually have to take classes while I’m there.

All right, last topic–daily routines. I am going to give you a crash course on Spanish schedules. To be honest, I don’t know how they do it–I would be so tired! The typical Spaniard wakes up around 7-8 am and has a very light breakfast before going to work, their favorite choice being cafe con churros (Which, by the way I cannot wait to try!). 



In the middle of the workday, the Spanish have a siesta, which consists of a late lunch with family between 2-3pm. This is the largest meal of the day for Spaniards and many shops and businesses close down for this time. Family members all eat together and chat and sometimes take a nap after the meal. Today however, the nap part is continuing to decline.The workday continues from about 4-8pm. Dinner is eaten late, around 9:00-10:00pm, sometimes later. If it is a weekday, they go to bed soon after. During the weekend, people stay up and go out for tapas, which are little appetizer dishes that are served at restaurants and bars. People of all ages stay out and socialize until the wee hours of the morning, sometimes around 3-4:00am! 



Spanish tapas.

Now let me explain MY daily routines. I usually get up around 5-7 am on a weekday, or 8-9 on a weekend. Yes, THAT is sleeping in for me. I am the definition of an early bird!! I eat breakfast around whatever time I wake up and then lunch around 11-1, depending on when I ate breakfast. I usually have a mid-day snack with some coffee a couple hours after lunch. My family always eats a SUPER early dinner, between ranging between 4-5. Then I usually have a small snack between 7-8 and I’m usually in bed by 9-10pm. As you can imagine, it’s going to be VERY difficult for me to adjust to the Spanish way of life! I will probably only stay up late during weekends, and eat dinner as soon as I can. But I can already tell that I am in for a huge culture shock!

I leave in 2 more days. Wow, the time is approaching fast!! Here is a break down of where I’ll be:

Sun. December 29th 12:00am–leaving via Greyhound bus from Erie, PA to New York, NY. 

Sun. December 29th 11:00am–arriving at NYC. I will then take a taxi down to JFK Airport. 

Sun. December 29th 7:00pm–deparing from NYC via American Airlines. 

Mon. December 30th 7:00am–arriving in Dublin, Ireland. I will have the day to sight-see and travel around the city. 

Mon. December 30th 9:00pm–departing Dublin via Irish Ferries. Crossing Irish Sea toward Holyhead, England. 

Tues. December 31st 12:20am–arriving in Holyhead, England. Preparing for my train to London. 

Tues. December 31st 4:45am–departing Holyhead toward London.

Tues. December 31st 8:30am–arriving in London, England.

Tues. December 31st 11:00am–checking-in at my first hostel in London!

I will have the entire week, (including New Years Eve at Big Ben!) to tour London and sight-see. The conversion from U.S. dollars to British pounds was BRUTAL, with $1.00 equaling about .55 after the transfer. I will be very conservative with my spending, but I won’t allow it to take away from the experience, trust me! 🙂

I also found a handy website today called TripIt, which creates an itinerary out of your e-mail confirmations (or you can manually add the info). It put everything into an easy-to-read format that I can print for easy reference while travelling. I highly recommend it!!

Plus, I bought some more snacks and some medicine for all the travelling I’ll be doing. (Aspirin, melatonin, dramamine and Airborne). I don’t want to get sick from others or motion sickness (which I’m very prone to!).

And this!!!


I’m ready. 


Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!

Thanks for reading, and I’ll keep you all posted! 🙂

¡Adiós! 🙂


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