September 14, 2022
Orientation, homestay, and Spanish classes have come to a close and now I am in the midst of a three-and-a-half week period of time in which I truly have nothing to do. Which normally, back home, I’d have little idea about what to do with all this idle time, but waking up each day in Madrid feels like there’s continually new things to see, streets to walk, and people to watch. It almost feels wrong to sit and lounge in our apartment due to the fact that we’re living in this new, exciting place that we currently know very little about.
So far, I’ve spent a lot of time walking around (averaging 5.3 miles a day), going to the supermarket (because our fridge doesn’t have enough capacity for more than a day’s worth of meals), and drinking cappuccinos at different cafes throughout the city (with real milk because I’m afraid to ask for almond), and of course, talking and laughing with my peers and roommates. It’s a weird realization that we live in a busy neighborhood in a major city and I feel very fortunate that this is the place in which I am beginning my “adult” life. And the craziest part of it all is that there hasn’t been one moment where I’ve felt unsafe regardless of the time of day (and I’m usually scared of people 24/7). People here stare, but they mind their business as long as you mind yours. Imagine that! I’ve grown accustomed to carrying my bag so that my arm covers the opening and clutching my phone tightly as I walk to avoid having my belongings stolen within the first month of living here. That’s an inconvenience I just really don’t want to have to deal with. But, so far, so good.
I will admit, the food has been typical to adjust to. Mostly because of the lack of bagels and my fear of their unrefrigerated eggs (but, I just read online that they don’t need to refrigerate their eggs like we do in the U.S., so maybe that will be my next big venture). The style of food here is more Mediterranean than I had expected, and while it’s not anything bad, it’s just different– but they do love potatoes, just like us! And just like with any other situation, it takes a little while for “different” to become normal. For now, it’s just a change in pace and there have been times where we’ve opted for an American restaurant to satisfy the craving of familiarity, and even so, “American” food here is still different. However, something that I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to is the fact that they don’t do spicy things here, and that “picante” often doesn’t translate into what I hope it will– even the Sriracha is sweet. :(. But if that’s the biggest culture shock so far, I think we’ll be okay.
The very best thing about Madrid so far is the affordability and low cost of living. There are places where you can get some of the best tacos I’ve ever had for a single euro, a coffee averages about 2,50, and the clothing brands that we covet on ASOS in the U.S. are cheaper here– also Zara is a Spanish brand which I was unaware of until moving here, and they’re basically on every corner (it’s like Spain’s version of Walgreens) and the prices are a fraction of what they are in the U.S. So very slay! Rent is affordable, a glass of wine at dinner is 3 euros, and the unlimited pass for the public transportation system is 10 euros a month. It’s pretty refreshing for someone who tends to live beyond her means, and while I still have to be careful with my spending, it feels very manageable and there is less guilt that comes with swiping my card.
It’s crazy to think about how much has changed in just three weeks, and how much more there is to come. I miss home, I miss driving my car, and I miss my friends and family, and there’s no way someone could move to another country without feeling that way. But, here in front of me, I have a new city, country, continent, and culture to explore and a very exciting life to begin.
Adiós por ahora!