Welcome to my first blog post! My name is Maya and I’ll be your guide into the dual city study abroad program to Madrid and London! Our first stop is Madrid, Spain!
This beautiful city never fails to make me smile. From the second those wheels skidded across the airport runway, I knew this would be a difficult goodbye. I arrived in the morning, just as the city was diving into rush hour. Everything here looks just as you would expect it to; cobblestone streets, incredible architecture, and cute little cars zipping past each other. This is my first time in Spain so coming to this foreign paradise was a little nerve-wrecking. I was worried about getting around with my limited knowledge of the language and navigating the city itself. I had done research before but it was hard to figure out what exactly I was supposed to know. I read up on the history and culture and places to visit but I’d definitely suggest reading blogs about other travelers’ experiences to prepare yourself for whatever adventures come your way.
I arrived in Madrid four days before my program started. I usually need a few days to get accustomed to a new place. My friend and I decided to spend our first two days just walking through the streets with no map and no place to go. Well, we did have a map but we only used it when we found ourselves staring at a centuries old palace or an ornamented church to know where we had ended up. For us, it was important to explore our new home and get to know the streets by making random left turns and wondering what that building is over to the right.
This trip is unlike any other that I’ve ever been on. First of all, I am traveling to another country to further my education. This is technically not a vacation so I have to wake up every morning for class and I can’t travel to other cities during the week. And yes, I still have to do my homework. Also, it really surprised me that English isn’t as widely spoken as I thought it would be. Most people only speak Spanish or other European languages. The climate here is dry and hot but cools down for a bit when the rain passes through. Sometimes it gets difficult to walk around when the sun is out. The thing about Madrid that really threw me off was their schedule. Here, between 2pm and 5pm is called siesta, which means nap. During this time, people eat lunch and actually get to take a nap! Many restaurants and shops close during this time as well. Honestly, it’s my favorite part of the day because who doesn’t love nap time? The meal schedule here has been a bit difficult to get used to. Breakfast is around 8am and only consists of coffee and a piece of toast with maybe a piece of meat or eggs. It’s usually a very small meal. Then comes the mid-morning snack around 10am, lunch and siesta at 2pm, then it’s back to work (or school) from 5pm to 7pm. After that, locals head out to the cervecerias, or bars, for drinks with good company and tapas. Tapas are appetizer sized snacks. Dinner finally rolls around at 9pm and lasts until about 11pm. But the day doesn’t end there for a lot of people. You can find bars and discotecas, or clubs, opened until 5am. That’s right, 5 IN THE MORNING. I guess that’s why they take a siesta!
I think adjusting my daily routine has been the most challenging part so far. I’m not used to eating late at night but I do love the smaller portions. I know I’m going to really enjoy living in Madrid!