As of today, I’ve been living in Madrid now for 6 full weeks and am so content. The first weeks have been a bit of a roller coaster and I’m beginning to settle in, but I still can’t get over the fact that every time I walk on a street drain in this city, it tells me I’m in MADRID, SPAIN. Still incredibly humbled by the whole thing.
My first month of being here was filled with off-the-wall errands that led to hour long adventures because I had no idea where to get anything, but now I’m starting to get the hang of things and it’s incredibly satisfying. One of these errands, for example, was to get stamps so I could effectively send a postcard to the States. Pro-tip for anyone thinking about coming to Spain–they sell stamps in tobacco stores called Estancos. It took a few attempts to figure that one out, but now I know all the ins and outs of sending mail here! *small victory*
Along with getting into the swing of things with knowing my way around, I’m also getting into a rhythm with my classes. I decided to take 3 of my 4 classes taught in Spanish this semester, and two of them are business classes. When I decided to do this, I considered the difficulty of the language barrier with my professors, but I didn’t consider the potential obstacles I would have in getting to know the other students. For the first couple of weeks, I was a little discouraged by the lack of friends I had made in my classes. It had seemed like everyone already knew each other and I was the odd one out in all of my classes instructed in Spanish. However, in the 4th and 5th weeks of school, we had to pick project groups for our semester assignments and this served as a great catalyst for me getting to know some other students, and I’m feeling a lot more comfortable. Within these project groups, I am constantly taken aback by how patient my partners have been. They are so willing to speak slower and repeat themselves because they know I’m trying to improve my Spanish and I am so grateful to be working with them. Yesterday, I had to deliver a presentation with my partner, Alex, a student from Spain, in my Quality Control class (taught in Spanish) and I was so nervous, but my partner went out of his way to help me practice more beforehand and made me feel so much more calm and prepared. We delivered it without any embarrassing language mix-ups and it was such a great confidence booster. Since we’ve gotten our project groups, I feel far better about my decision to take classes taught in Spanish and am so excited for the opportunities it will bring me to improve my speaking abilities in my time here.
Now that I’m fully acclimating myself to the Spanish lifestyle, I find myself trying to absorb the day to day culture so I can get the full experience. Some examples include: my lunch choices, meal times, use of public transportation and attempted adoption of 90’s fashion. My friend, Lydia (from A&M) has nicknamed me her “Little Spaniard” because everyday I bring a pretty typical Spanish lunch to school. My lunch usually consists of a bocadillo (sandwich on a baguette with either salami or fresh chorizo), some fruit and a dessert cracker of some kind *AKA just a bunch of delicious carbs*. I’ve also been trying to adopt traditional mealtimes. Breakfast is in the morning, lunch around 2-3pm, and dinner around 9 or 10 and always tapas with everything. Public transportation is another aspect that I’ve really enjoyed incorporating into my daily life here. The metro/rail/bus network in Madrid is the best in Spain and 2nd best in Europe in terms of efficiency and organization and it’s become so fun using it. I’ve really enjoyed how much I walk in this city and using the public transport in between is so convenient. Lastly, the fashion in Madrid amongst students my age is so definitive. Everyone looks like the walked out of the 90s; from the platform Dock Martins , to the pilly, ruffled sweaters and DENIM EVERYTHING, its all so dramatic. Shopping here is so much more reasonable than in the States with so many options and much cheaper prices, I’ve been trying to adopt some small aspects into my current wardrobe.
So far, I’ve had a blast trying to adopt the Spanish culture and figuring out how to do life in Madrid. Despite the difficulties associated with trying to fit into a new city (on the other side of the globe), I feel like I am becoming a far more capable, independent individual. I am having so much fun over here making friends with the other Aggies, traveling tons, and living it up in Madrid, and the only emotion I can feel for the next 3 1/2 months I have here is total excitement.