University of Wisconsin–Madison

Springing into Spring Semester

A new semester is upon us and I feel like I haven’t had a chance to catch my breath! I’m pleased to announce last semester I got A’s in all my reunidas classes and an AB in my Complutense class. Yay!! This semester I’m taking a total of 5 classes consisting of 3 reunidas and 2 Complutense classes. The best part of my schedule is that I don’t have class on Mondays or Tuesdays which is great for making travel plans!

For reunidas I’m taking “La mujer en la literatura española” (Women in Spanish literature), “Teatro español del Siglo de Oro” (Spanish theatre in the golden era), and “Dialectología” (Spanish dialects). In the Complu, I’m taking a women’s studies of Spain course along with a cinematic history class. So far, I really like my cinema class. It counts towards my other major (Com Arts) and it’s fascinating learning about cinema (especially American cinema) from the perspective of Spaniards. Below is a basic weekly schedule of my classes/other events that make up an average week. Every other Wednesday morning and Friday afternoon I have “practicas” which are basically like labs for my Complutense classes.

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Of course, I find things to do in my free time. January 31-February 15 was a food festival in Madrid called “Gastrofestival”. Following a guidebook, you could go to a participating tapas bar and try a featured tapa and 8oz drink all for 3 euros. It’s a great way to get out and try different restaurants and foods in Madrid for a very reasonable price!

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On February 13th, a few friends and I dressed up, made dinner and celebrated “Galentine’s Day”. For those of you unfamiliar with this fictitious holiday, it’s basically Valentine’s Day- but for you and your girlfriends. We had a candlelit dinner of chicken curry and listened to music while conversing.

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After dinner, we went out for dessert at “El Jardín Secreto”. This little nighttime lounge is decked out with unique artistic pieces that makes you feel like you just stepped foot into wonderland- or a secret garden”. It’s not open before 5pm and it’s menu specifically features drinks and cocktails. It’s awesome!

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Valentine’s Day was spent wandering around the city, enjoying Yakisoba noodles, coffee, carrot cake and aggressively fighting crowds for a free Valentine’s Day balloon- worth it.

It was also Carnival in Madrid. This is a grand celebration before the beginning of Lent. Basically the Spanish equivalent of Marti Gras in the states. There was a local parade and various events around town. People dress up in extravagant costumes and makeup and walk around town. A few friends and I decided to participate by dressing up and going to a club that was hosting a Carnival night.

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Cafés are an important part of my life. Lately I’ve been to a few awesome ones including “El Bistro” in Callao, the “Little Big Café” en Chamberí, and “Arquibar” near Plaza de España (my personal favorite). I’ve also been on a carrot cake kick and I’m not going to apologize for it. These cafés have excellent carrot cake and the “Little Big Café” has fantastic fresh smoothies.

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As temperatures drop back in the states (-30 wind chill?? No, thank you), temperatures are beginning to rise in Madrid. With averages in the upper 50s and 60s (and hopes of low 70s soon), it’s starting to really feel like Spring and I couldn’t be more excited! Pretty soon a light coat won’t be necessary. I’m anxiously awaiting that day.

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The other day, a group of us took advantage of the nice weather and had a picnic in the beautiful Retiro park right near the Alfonso XII monument. We enjoyed a wonderful lunch as we watched the rowboats paddle around the lake.

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Afterward, we happened upon a modern art exhibit by Luciano Fabro en el Palacio Velázquez. It was absolutely awesome! My personal favorite piece of art was a mix of mirrors and glass. When two people would stand on either side of the piece it was such a bizarre sensation because you would see the other person but also your reflection. I loved this exhibit because you could get up close and personal with the pieces.

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After Retiro, everyone came over to my piso and we cooked spaghetti carbonara and enjoyed an evening filled with laughs and Mamma Mia in Spanish.

With this warming weather I’m also able to sit outside during the evenings and watch the sunset. Madrid is known for having some of the most incredible sunsets in Europe. I can personally vouch for this. My favorite place to watch the sunset is at the Temple of Debod which luckily enough is only a couple blocks from where I live. There’s a beautiful overlook, a fountain, and usually street music to set the mood. I love it and can’t wait to go on a regular basis once it’s warmer.

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That’s a bit of what’s been going on in my life this semester thus far. I’m looking forward to what else Madrid has in store for me as the semester continues!

~Bailey