(May 26, 2014)
I’ve survived my first week in Madrid! It was an interesting one to say the least. I don’t even know where to begin to describe all that I have experienced in these past few days. But I think I would like to start with my Homestay experience and first impressions of Madrid. The differences between life here and in Florida are innumerable. My family lives in Lakeland, Florida and I am currently living in Gainesville, Florida for school. To say the least, Madrid is bigger than both put together. Adjusting to a huge metropolitan city has been a challenge in and of itself. I realized just how big the city is after studying the map of the city and subway system. The public transportation system here is extremely efficient and cost effective. I’ve downloaded a mobile application that shows routes and have unlimited access to the subway and bus systems while in Madrid. (Tip Time: To get to any particular place on a time schedule, I suggest you take the metro. However, when time is on your side, there’s no better way to see a lot of the city than on the bus. – Both get the job done!) I paid approx. 35 euros for a month long ticket. (Tip Time: It will take some time to get your bearings in a new city; especially, in a city where it may be a more difficult to understand the signs or ask for directions. I have gotten lost several times already (sometimes purposely, sometimes not so much)). However, this is a surefire way to force yourself to learn where you are and where you want to go. I will throw in a shameless complaint to wrap up this Big-city rant and say that I absolutely HATE the amount of walking done here. I miss my car so much. However, it is keeping me in relatively good shape despite consuming copious amounts of amazing food.
Speaking of amazing food, This past Friday IES planned a trip to Segovia for my as apart of our program itinerary. The trip featured a traditional restaurant in Torrecaballeros called El Rancho De La Aldeguela. We were able to try local Segovian food like Tortilla de patatas, pimientos pollo asado, croquetas caseras. In addition to the amazing food we also enjoyed walking through the city to visit beautiful sites like the Iglesia de la Vera Cruz (an Ancient church), Alcázar (an ancient Fortress and Palace), as well as the famous Aqueduct of Segovia (a 2000 year old ancient Roman monument-an interesting bit is that this monument, used to transport water to the city, was constructed stone-by-stone without the use of any adhesive). The City was amazingly beautiful with views I have only seen in movies.
As you may know, soccer, or fútbol, is sort of a big deal here. Last night, the two best soccer teams from Madrid were competing for the championship of the UEFA Champions League. Needless to say, the city was going to be in a crazy state of euphoric celebration, regardless of whichever team won. And crazy it was. Some friends from class and I decided to meet at a bar to watch the game and experience what all the “hype” was about. To put it lightly, Madrileños are very serious about their soccer. It seems like all ~4million people here were dressed in their teams colors chanting and cracking jokes about the opposing team. We were literally shoulder to shoulder in the bar watching Real Madrid beat their city rivals, Atlectico Madrid, 4-1 to earn their 10th victory at this prestigious tournament. After the game, I spoke with some locals who explained to me that the Madrid team would be celebrating matches at Cibeles Fountain in Madrid. MY classmates and I decided to check it out and were overwhelmed by the number of people and level of excitement. The team was expected to make an appearance that night. However, I survived the massive block-party until 4am before I decided to turn in. Of course, most everyone else in the city was fully prepared to party the entire night! Vamos Real Madrid! Campeones!