As the end of day 5 draws nears, I have walked for 33.5 miles, explored two major cities in Spain, started class at a new school, took the train for the first time, made some new friends, and learned so much.
I started class on Thursday. It went really well, I thought! We took a field trip to get coffee after class, so I think I’m going to like it here. Speaking of the coffee, it’s amazing here. But it is also super strong. I am so used to drinking American coffee all day every day, that I had three here before noon the other day and I was so jazzed that I could hardly sit still. It’s weird for me to not constantly be drinking coffee but I’ll get used to it I suppose. It’s also weird to me that they don’t have iced coffee here and many places also don’t have lattes. They just have the standard café con leche or unflavored cappuccinos. I think there is a place in Madrid that I’ll have to try sometime that has pourover. That’ll probably be the closest to “American coffee” I will be able to find here.
I think I’ve walked more in the last 5 days than I have in the last 2 months. Which is embarrassing, but also shows the difference in lifestyles and cultures. My feet are super sore and I have blisters the size of dimes on my pinky toes..but it’s worth it. Yesterday, I noticed that walking on cobblestone or uneven roads felt good on my sore feet, sort of like a free foot massage as I walked. By the end of the day, they usually hurt pretty bad..but I try to push through until I get home because I know that this is the chance of a lifetime and I don’t want to miss out on any of it.
I like everybody I go to school with, but I really like my little group of friends that I’ve made. We all mesh well together and have the same views and beliefs on a lot of things. We also all wanna go to a lot of the same places. So that helps a lot when trying to plan weekend trips across the country/continent.
We went to Madrid on Friday for part of our orientation. We saw some of the main big sites but we did not go in any of them. I want to go back and go in the Royal Palace and the Prado and the Picasso Museum.. I also have a list of coffee shops I want to go to also (imagine that). I keep getting told that Madrid is like the NYC of Spain.. I’ve never been to NYC, but I feel like it would be way busier than Madrid is. We went out to Madrid on Saturday night also and yeah, there were a lot more people than there were when we went on Friday but I didn’t feel overwhelmed like I feel like I would in NYC. One thing I did notice though, is that people are not very polite. They will not move out of the way to avoid running into you, they will not say sorry if they do run into you, and they look at you weird when you say “sorry” or “excuse me” because you’re used to it.
The architecture of the buildings is beautiful. It is very Romanesque. The buildings aren’t super tall, but Madrid has one of the tallest buildings in all of Europe. I’ve spent a decent amount of time in Chicago and the buildings here are nothing compared to downtown Chi-town.
I’m excited to get my transportation pass so I can go back whenever I want. I won’t get that until February though because they don’t issue them in the middle of the month. I am excited to explore and see what else I can find.
One thing I noticed that could be improved for the better is the amount of smoking that goes on, and the amount of graffiti there is everywhere. At first I was intrigued by the graffiti, as I love street art. But there’s so much here to where it is almost trashy to me now. I think murals are cool but not so much all of the random “tags” people have spray painted on buildings. I also think it can be annoying in some cases. Like one of the coffee shops I went to had gotten defaced recently and now it just looks trashy. I think art should be used for good and for the freedom of expression, not just as a way to tag things saying “so and so was here”. As far as the smoking goes, everybody here smokes it seems like. Normally smoking doesn’t really bother me, but there is so much of it that goes on here that it feels like I can’t get away from it sometimes which is frustrating. It’s also clearly not healthy at all, so I personally think people should stop doing it all together but I know that that is probably not very feasible.