It’s only been a couple days since I’ve been in Madrid, but I already feel like I’ve been on so many adventures. After a long flight I arrived at the orientation hotel where I met all the other students on the same program as me. I love it because we’re all from different places – ranging from America, to Australia, to China! Not only am I learning about the culture in Spain, I’m learning about the world.
One of the things I was most nervous about was receiving my host family. Really, I didn’t need to be worried at all. I got so lucky with my amazing hosts. I live with an elderly host mother and two of her (out of 10!) children. Such a big familia! One of her kids is pretty good at English too, which is comforting when I don’t know how to say something in Spanish.
View from my apartment:
We live in Barrio de Salamanca, which is residential and beautiful! It feels a lot like 5th Avenue in New York. In fact, Madrid reminds me a lot of New York in some ways. Public transportation is everywhere, but there’s also lots of places you can walk to. However, things are a lot less rushed here, which is pretty nice.
There’s definitely some things different here than America. First of all, when you meet or see someone somewhere, instead of a hug or a handshake, you give them two kisses by the cheeks (remember: left first). Spaniards like to stare a lot, too. To a foreigner, it seems rude, but it’s just the way they are. Also, the siesta is real. And it’s amazing.
Speaking of amazing…food. Definitely amazing. Within the first couple of days my host mother made me a lot of typical Spanish dishes like gazpacho (cold tomato soup) and tortilla (like a big omelet of egg and potatoes usually). I thought the late eating times in Madrid were going to be hard for me, but it’s actually worked out well thanks to all the tapas (small plates of food) bars.
A highlight of my experience here so far was the tenth annual Gay Pride Parade. Never would I have thought I’d be dancing in a parade through the streets of Madrid at night. Never have I seen so many shirtless men in one place too.
There’s been a couple of struggles along the way though. My apartment, like most others in Madrid, doesn’t have A.C., which can be tough when it’s 100 degrees outside. I also have to take cold showers. I’ve gotten lost quite a few times too. But it doesn’t matter, because it’s all worth it to be here in this awesome city.