Hola! My stay here so far has been great! I am living in a residence hall offered by the university named Residencía Gáldos. I get to stay here for three weeks, or until September 10th. Getting started with Americans from my program has been great. We all came with the same tourist-type errands to run: setting up a phone plans, buying electricity converters, navigating a new subway system, making appointments with landlords, and overcoming jet lag. Besides that, fellow students in my program have been great companions for exploration. On the other hand, I haven’t had many opportunities to speak Spanish, so I’m feeling a little impatient to start my “real” life in Madrid and move off campus. Diana, our program lead, advised us to avoid finding apartments with fellow Americans, and now I see why. It’s really difficult to use Spanish at all with people who speak fluent English. The temptation to fall back on English is overwhelming.
As far as the apartment search goes, I’m off to a rocky start. I’ve emailed or called at least 30 landlords and haven’t gotten a response yet. When I open an apartment listing and see that “320 people have liked this posting, 73 people have emailed the landlord”– I can guess why I’m not getting immediate responses. This is a bit stressful because my choice of apartment could make the difference between a great experience and a mediocre one.
On a positive note– I am in love with Madrid. This place is so romantic. I got to tour some of the royal gardens last night, and it was beautiful. There’s a lake in the middle filled with couples in romantic boats watching the sunset together. The garden itself was huge, sandwiched right in the middle of a huge metropolitan area. This shows how much Spaniards love their moments of peace and relaxation even in the daily chaos of 3 million people. It was really cool to see locals spending time with their families in the grass or using the garden to jog.
On my way there, I must have passed three dozen ancient buildings. I took some really cool pictures at sunset. I need to do some reading and catch up on my Spanish history so I know more about the city.
Adios for now!