Thursday, October 3, 2013

Bienvenida a Madrid!

Man…it has been AWHILE since I’ve updated this blog. Last time I posted an entry, I was melancholy alone in the Madrid airport wishing I could push the rewind button back two years and start my experience in La Rioja all over again. Now, I am in Madrid studying with Middlebury College and I am really enjoying it. It has been exactly a month since I arrived in Madrid and it definitely wasn’t easy getting here. Delayed flights, switching flights, losing luggage and watch two airline companies fight with each other to determine whose fault it was definitely wasn’t the smooth introduction to my new madrileño life…however, I will admit watching Iberia and United go at it was similar to watching a bad soap opera and therefore quite entertaining.

My first few weeks in Madrid were difficult, only because the size of Madrid overwhelmed me. Palma wasn’t this big…definitely bigger than Logroño, but smaller than Madrid by a LOT. The adjustment period I think is almost over. I know my neighborhood, I know how to get to school, I know how to get to the center and I know how to navigate around the park now. I live right next to the Parque del Retiro and if I had to make a comparison it is similar to Central Park except smaller. I like my neighborhood a lot; it’s peaceful and pretty. I live in Barrio Ibiza. I think part of the adjustment period is getting accustomed to how much more expensive Madrid is than Logroño…. groceries are about double the price, rent is WAY more expensive, I pay 150 euros more than I did in Logroño for an apartment that is much smaller…but the rent is nothing compared to the states of course so I guess I can’t complain TOO much, but at times I wonder WHERE DID MY MONEY GO??? Mostly to groceries and ATM fees. I'm thinking about opening up a Spanish bank account again because I'm pretty sick of the fees.

Something that definitely helped was Middlebury’s planned trip to Segovia, a city I have never been to before and have always wanted to see. Segovia is home to the famous roman aqueduct. I learned all about it while studying at Holy Cross, but to see it in person was breathtaking. Visiting Segovia was always one of those things I have wanted to cross off my Spain to-do list. So I feel very accomplished in that sense! The city is about an hour away from Madrid and it is much smaller and more personal in my opinion. There is a large Arabic influence in architecture in some parts of Spain and Segovia was no exception. All of the buildings had intricate designs on them…it was just so intriguing to see. I’m so glad we went!!

To get to the actual reason I’m here, classes, I have to say that I really really like them. I picked three winners I think: Colloquial Spanish, Classic Works of Literature (Spanish of course), and Spain as a Cultural Image. All of the professors are fantastic and although I was a Spanish major in college, I am being introduced to new topics and for this, I am enthralled with my classes. The Colloquial Spanish class is great because now I understand better what I am hearing on the streets. We have to bring in examples of colloquialisms that we hear and I get most of them from tuning in to the Spanish TV. There are a few cheesy shows I am into and now cannot miss... for example: La Voz, the Spanish version of the American show: The Voice. Anyway, nothing crazy has happened in any of my classes yet, so I will be sure to include that in the future in case it does.

As previously mentioned, the adjustment period I think is wearing off, but I was very fortunate to get back to my home away from home a couple weeks ago: La Rioja. It was such a relief to arrive again. My friend Caroline and I were on the bus together and it felt natural to get off the bus and know exactly where we were going. I will say, there was a part of me that was disappointed I couldn’t walk to my old apartment and rest from the trip. I stayed with my friend Andrea who has recently moved to Madrid and is now staying with me while she finds an apartment. I went to Logroño and visited with my old friends, made some new ones (new auxiliares), celebrated the famous San Mateo festival, visited with some co-workers, ate the magical pinchos on Calle Laurel and above all…visited some of my schools. Ahh I just love those niños!!! Shocking… I was attacked by a mob of little school children: ESTEPHANIEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Hahahaha of course, either they had forgotten or had pretended to forget that I wasn’t returning to teach them this year. I heard a bunch say, “so, you’re back?! Will you come next week???” It killed me to tell them, “No! I live in Madrid now!! I’m sorry.” I promised to visit another time.  Leaving Logroño wasn’t fun, but at the same time I felt so happy after my visit.

Now, I’m not exactly sure how my blog to keep all you back home informed will work. It’s a very different year that won’t be filled with funny elementary school stories and bodega visits (or at least fewer of those). However, as I mentioned in my last post…the difference with this year is that it's a new adventure and most likely will be my last “jaunt” in España for awhile…meaning, I have to take advantage while I can! Not only to enjoy Madrid, but cross other things off my Spain to-do list. These things include but are not limited to: visiting Salamanca, La Coruña, Santander and Burgos. The visit to Burgos embarrasses me because it is so close to Logroño and I can’t believe I didn’t take advantage of the proximity while I was living in La Rioja!!!

Just as I always sign off on every other blog post, I am going to try and keep this as up-to-date as possible!!! Really. So….hasta luego! 


Buildings with Arabic designs in Segovia

Cathedral in Segovia

View from Castle in Segovia

View from castle tower


With friends in Logroño

On a pincho run!

The beautiful Parque del Retiro in Madrid