After getting a lift to Madrid with GSE, I set off on my own for the first real time. Well, not really, because I met up with Inma and Liz for lunch the next day, but it was the first time that I was in an unfamiliar place, relatively alone. Again, it was raining for my arrival. It was also siesta, so everything was closed and there was no one in the streets. Cool.
My hostel ended up being weirdly wonderful. The hostel itself wasn’t weird, it was just strange how comfortable I felt there. I was in a ten-person dormitory, and there was no place to lock up my suitcase, but for some reason it felt really cozy! I think it might have been because I was staying in a female dorm. In most of my daily interactions, I like to have a healthy co-ed balance, but oh my god, if you are a girl and you appreciate having your area of habitation smell nice, stay in an all girl room next time you’re in a hostel. It was super clean and nice and smelled like soap and perfume. I extended my stay two nights longer than planned and ended up staying in Madrid four days.
Most of my time was spent shopping for all of the things I neglected to bring with me, like a hairdryer, shoes, and a jacket. There was a little bit of a cold streak in Madrid, and it made me realize that I had like, no clothes at all. I was all proud of myself for packing light, but for the first time EVER EVER EVER in my life, I think I packed too light! It has been a good excuse for shopping, which was fun until I realized just how quickly money disappears when the exchange rate is 1.56 dollars to the Euro. Ugh. But I still love Spanish chain stores.
I also had my first auxiliary meet-up, and I got to talk to other participants on the program for the first time ever. It was SO awesome. I think I met about 6 people on the program, all who were placed in Madrid and were about to have a completely different experience than what I was heading into. I’ve realized that this program honestly puts so many people into so many different situations, that there are really a lot of people who have NO idea what they are getting into when they get on that plane to fly here. There were a few people who were teaching infants, others who were in primary schools, and others in high schools. One girl was going to teach in one of Madrid’s ritziest neighborhoods, Salamanca. A few others were teaching in small towns reachable by train, others were in the poorer barrios in the south. One girl was living with a family who was providing her with free housing and a weekly stipend in exchange for an au-pair-ish situation with their three kids. Another girl was living l’Auberge Espagnole style with a million Erasmus students off Plaza Mayor. And then there was me, heading to the boonies of Andalucía. We were all in the same program, and we were all about to have absolutely different experiences. Kind of awesome, but kind of frustrating.
I’m glad that I spent a lot of time in Madrid because I realized just how little of the city I saw the first time I was there. I also realized that churros are better at 6am, after a healthy night of dancing/drinking/having coldair blasted on you through a laser/go-go-girl bubble infused atmosphere. They were a little lackluster at 11pm. I did get to see Guernica which I missed the first time around due to the aforementioned drinking/churros combination. It was pretty sweet, and it was actually as big as everyone says. Reina Sofia is a lovely museum. It’s also free if you do it right! Yay!!
I also liked being in Madrid because it brought back some really nice memories. My first time there was pure, ridiculous, completely irresponsible fun, and even though I feel like an old fart talking about it like that, it was nice to reminisce. Madrid is another place that I plan on revisiting many, many times. Especially since it’s about 3 hours away, by my new favorite form of transportation, coach. Blah.