¡¡Ya estoy en Madrid!!
Ok so I’ve been real bad about updating this blog so far, but I promise it’s with good reason — I’ve been busy settling myself into the city and searching for an apartment (or “piso”, which means floor but how españoles refer to an apartment), which has proven extremely difficult.
But I’ll start at the beginning. I left Greenville, SC Monday morning for Atlanta with my two checked bags and one carry-on backpack — to me just the right amount to pack for a year. Flight to ATL was easy enough, just 30 min. Had a five-hour layover in atlanta, but it was and I actually used up every minute of it by way of catching up on emails, reading, etc.
Flight from ATL to Madrid wasnt bad, for being 8.5 hours. Had some mechanical trouble at the beginning. I was supposed to have an aisle seat, but I switched to a middle seat after a husband and wife wanted to sit next to each other. This, after being moved up closer 15 rows — just goes to show you there’s two sides of every coin, I guess. Anyway, the flight wasn’t too bad for a middle seat; I had planned on watching a few episodes of The Newsroom and reading my book during the flight, but both of the people on my sides were asleep for pretty much the whole flight, so I couldn’t reach my stuff. But I ended up getting a lot of sleep on the plane, and the food was great really, so no pasa nada.
(Also if you havent caught on yet– this is going to be a very detailed post. I like to keep records of everything I do abroad, so just fyi!)
I get to the airport, and I can’t even express how good it felt to know I was back on Spanish soil. Coming back to España was something I have wanted ever since I left my semester abroad in Sevilla — NOT to try to re-create that very experience, but to create a new one in a country I absolutely love. I was a bit scared leaving the U.S. this time, knowing just how many amazing friends I was leaving behind until who knows how long this time, now that
everyone’s graduated, and because I knew the apartment search would be really hard — but this fear was a feeling I hadn’t felt the 2 previous times I went abroad.
However, I felt better immediately after landing in spain. It’s odd, to me, being in Madrid feels less like being in a foreign city and more like coming home. It seems familiar. I can speak the language so much better than last time. I know many of the customs. I, simply, love it here. Not to say that I don’t love the U.S., and in particular the people still there, but this really just feels like home right now.
Anyway, I get to the airport, and I take my time taking out money from the ATM ($10 transaction fees?? come on bank of america) and finding the metro, which was suchhh a far distance away from my terminal. I take the metro to my hostel, which I really liked. It was cheap (8euro vs. about 35 for a taxi), not very difficult, and it got me well-aquainted with the Madrid metro. Plus, as soon as I got on, I had my first conversation with a guy in Spanish, and it actually went really well!! It was a big boost for my confidence with the castellano.
I got to the hostel, and was very pleased with it. Clean, spacious, extremely, extremely helpful and friendly staff. I was in a mixed-8-person room, and as soon as I got there I struck up a fascinating conversation with 2 German roommates, Lesse and Christoff. Soon after, a Californian named Andrew came in. He’s actually doing the same Auxiliar program as me, just in a high school, so we hit it off and had a lot to talk about.
After talking for a few hours with those guys, I went out to explore and find a SIM for my phone. I walked around La Latina, a nearby neighborhood that I thought wanted to live in, at first. It seemed kinda too quiet, so I crossed that off my wish-list. I then went and found the hotel I stayed in during the first few days of my API semester — brought back some great memories. I also stopped immediatly to get 2 of the Spanish foods I missed the most since Sevilla (pic above): a sandwich of jamón serrano, and a café con leche. Incredible. I also stopped a bit later for a pinche of tortilla, another item I misesd a lot.
Then, the SIM — this proved to be an ordreal. I actually went to the exact same spot I went two and a half years ago to get my Spanish SIM, but at that time, I was with my roommate Gabe. I couldn’t speak a lick of Spanish at that point, but Gabe was Argentinian-American and therefore fluent; he basically took care of everything.
The language was a bit difficult for me, but I eventually found a plan I liked: 60minutes/60texts/1GB of data each month, for 15euros a month. Pretty cheap, I think. It just took like an hour and a half of waiting in line at the vodafone store, I could not believe how packed all the móvil stores were past 5pm.
Afterwards I installed some apps on my phone for communicating back home, then headed back to the hostel. The other roommates in the room were 2 Australian guys and 2 girls from Argentina. All 8 of us in the room were friendly and jovial, so we all decided to go out on the hostel’s pub crawl that night. We started first with the hostel’s all-you-can-eat tapas experience (so good: had lots of patatas bravas, croquetas, tortilla, cheap paella, TINTO DE VERANO!).
The pub crawl was legit, probably only the good one I’ve been on. It was 12euros, with free entrance and drink specials and a tequila shot at 3 bars and 1 club. All the bars were so sick, they were really more like clubs because they had loud music and big dance floors. The first bar we went to reminded me so much of Demo, one of our most-frequented bars in Sevilla, because it was just a long, narrow bar with neon lights and a dance floor in the back. As soon as I stepped in there, I immediatly felt like home. Only downside was that the bars were so great and clubby, but then the “club” we ended the night at was nothing more than an Irish pub! We should’ve just stayed at the third bar.
The pub crawl was a great fun time, and I’m convinced it was because we had such a great group of people. The one thing I was most worried about with those whole year was meeting people. I’ve never known anybody well when I went abroad, but at least with study abroad you go with a company providing you backup and giving you a group of other students to be with. This time, I was completely solo. But the night’s experience showed me that it is possible to meet awesome people out of nowhere, which was the reason I decided to go out even though I hadn’t slept properly in like 2 days.
The day made me feel at home, made me feel comfortable with my decision to come here — it made my happy.
More to come! It took awhile to write that post, but I still have two more days to cover! Hasta pronto!