Sorry it has been a while since I’ve been here and yet I haven’t posted. Life has been crazy so far and I hadn’t gotten the chance to keep you all updated! I arrived safely in Madrid after two long (but easy) flights. Immediately upon exiting the airplane, I was already forced to test my knowledge of the Spanish language. Simply hailing down a taxi and telling the driver where to go was a challenge. Quickly however, my brain switched to Spanish mode and I remembered the key phrases and words necessary to converse with locals. When we arrived at my host family’s apartment, we were shocked at how small the elevator, front door, and entry way were. Everything seemed miniature! That being said, getting our hefty suitcases into our room in the back of the apartment was a struggle and a half (we’re girls, you can imagine how much we brought).
Here’s outside our apartment…
Our host mom greeted us at the door as did the smell of fish (that hasn’t seemed to go away), and lots of kisses and hugs were exchanged. Our host mom’s name is Mercedes and she may be the sweetest, cutest little woman I have ever seen. Besides my Grandma of course. I was reminded once again how much I suck at Spanish and it was a struggle to say anything more than “si!” or “gracias” to her. Mercedes has a daughter, Marta, who is about 30 and does most of the cooking and caretaking.
Sophia and I were shocked at the number of times we got asked to take a picture WITH someone. Do we really stick out as Americans that much?! Must have been the huge Canon DSLR strapped around my neck that gave it away.
Anyway, after much walking, we returned to our house to eat dinner. Dinners usually consist of a protein and some kind of salad or side. No sauces or dressings are used which is weird to me but also seems a lot healthier. That along with the amount we seem to be walking has made for a very healthy, and very sore legged, lifestyle.
In the next couple of days, we had explored the area. We found our campus (a 35 minute walk from home), and a giant sports park right in between. This excited me because there is a huge track, soccer fields, tennis courts, a driving range, and much more. I was delighted to see that working out wouldn’t be as big of a struggle as I may have thought.
We met up with our other group members from LMU on orientation day and attended our first couple days of classes. The classes here are not as much of a joke as other abroad programs, seeing as this is a permanent 4-year campus for some students. My classes are interesting and my professors are really good. I only have one American professor… then 1 British, 1 Irish, and 2 Spanish, all with thick accents. Que interesante!
I’ve been walking everywhere. My friends and I still haven’t perfectly mastered the metro system, but we will. It costs 1.5 euros each way too which is expensive so we are looking into getting a monthly pass. I am already sick of walking to and from school every day. Our house is not in the most convenient location, but oh well. We can easily take the metro to Puerta del Sol which is the city center in Madrid. It is way less residential and the architecture is stunning. It’s fun to get drinks and tapas there or simply shop around.
As for my Spanish, in just 10 days it has rapidly improved. On the second day of dinner with my host fam, I was already speaking full sentences rather than jibberish. The only thing stopping me from speaking Spanish 24/7 is that my classes are in English and most of the students at my university are American (or English speaking). Two of my friends, Sean and Irwin, are pretty much fluent though and so we help each other practice Spanish and improve.
In terms of nightlife here, it’s never dead. Despite this, store seem to open and close at the oddest times and I’m still getting used to that as well. The weekend starts on Wednesday or Thursday night and we stay up until 7 or 8 in the morning. It’s a weird lifestyle. I’m used to sleeping in, but not until 2:45pm. I’ll have to get used to that. We went to Kapital last weekend, one of the coolest night clubs in Madrid. It was insane.
I can’t wait to tell you more about what goes on. Today we are going to try to plan our European adventures for the rest of the semester! I have class now so I’m gonna go, but I’ll keep you posted.
Hasta manana familia, te amo!