¡Mi Primera Semana!

Now that my first week is over, I can look back and give a little insight on my first my thoughts and experiences in Spain! Firstly, I arrived two days before my program actually started to get accustomed to the area and fix my jetlag. I arrived on a Saturday night that just so happened to be during the Final Champions League match between Real Madrid and Liverpool. While I was walking around the downtown area to reach my hostel, I could tell whenever something was happening in the game because I could hear cheers and shouts echoing through the streets. Every restaurant that I passed had people with their faces pressed up to the glass to see inside and watch the game on the TV, and most bars that I saw were packed with people inside. Even my taxi driver had the game playing on the radio. It was a really cool atmosphere to see everyone so excited and all crowded together, fixated on every moment of the game. The atmosphere around the city reminded me of game days back on campus in the U.S., except it was the entire city.

The following day I decided to take the train to El Escorial, home of “El Real Monasterio de San Lorenzo de El Escorial”. Here, I saw the retreat and residence of historic Spanish monarchs built by rey Felipe II in the 16th century. I bought my tickets to explore the beautiful location, now museum, and ended up spending my entire afternoon there. The architecture and history of the location had me grinning from ear to ear and constantly whispering “oh my gosh” because of just how significant and gorgeous everything was. In the center of the location was one of the most beautiful churches I had ever seen, well actually, a basilica. Upon entering, I immediately had chills running down my back as I looked up at the high-up, vaulted ceilings and the jaw dropping designs in the construction. The nave of the basilica was light by a dull, blue-gray light through small windows from the cloudy sky outside, and the altar was lit in a red-orange glow from hundreds of candles. It was truly breathtaking, and I would have gotten hundreds of pictures of it all, but sadly the security told me no pictures were allowed. However, the most amazing thing at this already fantastic location was seeing the tombs of many Spanish monarchs and even Holy Roman Emperors like Charles V (Carlos V) and others. It was a truly astounding experience.

The following days I met my fellow classmates in my same program, began my classes, saw the royal palace in Madrid, went to a few parks, met my new roommate who is studying here from Barcelona, and continued my gastronomic tour of Spain that I began nearly immediately on arrival. As of now, the majority of money that I have spent has been on food, and I regret none of it.

Surprising and New Things

I have noticed a few differences and surprising things upon my arrival in the language and culture of the people. Firstly, no one says “baños” in my experience when talking about the restrooms. It is “aseos”.

Additionally, I have learned that instead of what I am used to in my own experiences of saying “sí, s´´í, sí” all of the time to express agreement or understanding, I hear madrileños using “vale”, which according to my roommate is the equivalent of “ok”. While I am more than ready to add this to my seemingly restricted vocabulary, I always feel as though I am using it incorrectly in my day-to-day speech, even if no one outwardly calls me out.

This may be obvious to anyone who knows anything about Spain, but it is genuinely hard to adjust to the new eating schedule that is engrained in Spanish culture. Breakfast at 7-9am is usually coffee, a piece of bread with tomatoes and olive oil, or a pastry, and is always relatively meager. Lunch is the main meal of the day that begins around 1pm (though still a bit early for many here) and goes until 3 or 4pm, and in some cases, you can see people finishing their lunch of midday merienda around 5pm. Don’t even think about dinner until 8pm but most do not begin to eat until 9 or 10pm. Despite all of my mental preparation before hopping on the plane to go to Spain, I am still adjusting to this difference even now.

Although I may already be almost done with my second week, I will wait until my next post to explain my second week and all of the other new experiences. As it is now, one of my main goals is to go to every park in Madrid, there are a lot of them, and do a comparison with pictures, but my mission is still incomplete, as of now. Until my next post, ¡chao!