As you may have forgotten, I’m actually in Spain to learn and attend classes (???). Hard to believe, I know. So I thought I’d briefly mention what that all entails including the classes I’m taking this semester.
During the Fall semester, Wippers take 3 reunidas classes and one class at the Spanish university, Complutense. Again, reunidas classes are classes designed with study abroad/ American students in mind, and follow a style of teaching that we are more accustomed to. Of course, all courses are taught in Spanish. When choosing classes, there are plenty of reviews written by past Wippers about the classes, as well as a book filled with equivalencies for each respective university in the WIPT program.
The classes I am taking for reunidas are “Madrid: Culture and Society” (Monday and Tuesday 10-11:30am),“Spanish Literature: 18-20th Century (Monday and Tuesday 4-5:30pm) and “Contemporary Spanish Theater” (Thursday and Friday 1-2:30pm). The class I am taking at the Complutense counts towards Com Arts credits and is “Music and Mediums of Communication” (Thursday and Friday 10:30-12:30pm).
All my classes are interesting, but of course there are moments when it is difficult to concentrate and focus because my brain is fried with Spanish overload. With our Complutense classes, WIPT offers us the option to have a tutor if we need extra help or would like someone to review important notes, assignments, or concepts with which is always a good idea- not to mention the fact that it’s free! And as always, the wonderful WIPT staff is there to help us with anything we may need.
But other than that, what has Bailey been up to?
To begin with, since I don’t have class on Wednesdays I use that time to meet with an intercambio to practice language exchange. My intercambio’s name is Celia and we switch between speaking together in English and Spanish to help us both improve. We usually meet up for a couple hours and visit a new place in Madrid each week.
After I meet with Celia for a few hours, I have a job where I look after two young Spanish boys (Manuel and Gonzalo) for a few hours then teach their older brother (Carlos) English for a hour. I seem to be slowly integrating into their family as time goes on and experience is very rewarding. They frequently invite me to have dinner with them.
I’ve also joined a choir! We meet for 3 hours each Monday night and it’s a wonderful way to still keep music in my life while abroad. The choir is a gospel choir and is run through the Complutense. I’ve been in choir all my life and I’m so glad I chose to participate in it while in Spain. Most of the music is sung in English (because it’s gospel) and it’s a great way to experience cultural blend.
Tuesdays have become “Tapa Tuesdays” where a few friends and I like to experience a new tapa place every week in a attempt to learn the best places in the city. So far, our favorites have been “El Tigre” (of course), “Madrid Madriz”, and “La Blanca Paloma”.
Thrifting is an upcoming trend in Madrid and a few weeks ago we went to a thrifting event in the neighborhood of “La Latina” which was a very cool experience. People set up tables where they sold their old clothes while a DJ played music in the background.
One of the cooler places I’ve discovered in Madrid is “La Gatoteca” which is a cat café. For a couple euros, you get to hang out in a room filled with cats while you enjoy something to drink. There’s also free wifi which is an added bonus. All the cats at “La Gatoteca” are up for adoption as well (tempting).
But I’ve also found “my usual” café! It’s called “La Bicicleta” and it’s located in the neighborhood of Malasaña. This is a popular café among students and were many go to study and relax in the trendy environment. I probably spend a a little too much time here, but I love it.
Another great place to study or gather with friends is called “Cake Room” located near the metro Bilbao. This café has a complete menu but specializes in delicious desserts. I recommend the carrot cake. The lighting in this café is wonderful and I love the warm and classy decorations.
La Tabacalera is a vacated tobacco factory that is currently a cultural and social epicenter located at the metro Embajadores. It’s free of charge to enter and you can do anything from playing/listening to various bands, to exploring the underground graffiti tunnels. There are also an assortment of classes you can take if desired. Essentially is a place where people can go and freely express themselves in whatever way they choose. The graffiti tunnels are very cool and artsy.
Since Madrid is situated along a line of mountains, you can find great hiking a short bus ride outside of the city. A couple friends and I spent the day hiking at the “La Pedriza” and had a wonderful picnic lunch on top of a mountain. Perhaps one of my favorite experiences yet and I’d love to do more hiking if I get the chance.
So that’s a little of what I’ve been up to! Of course, it’s all a delicate balance between school and having fun but it’s how I’ve been keeping busy. With each passing day, I know I’ll have more and more places and experiences to add to my archive of life here in Madrid!