One Month In: Madrid, Spain

I hit my one month anniversary here in Spain, and I didn’t even notice. My sister reminded me, and I took a second to think about it. How the time flies! I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on my experience so far. What I expected this to be and what it is so far; what I’ve learned and how I’ve grown, things I thought I’d do and things I’ve done. That kinda stuff. So let’s go.

  • Madrid, Spain

I had very little time to prepare before I came to Spain, less than four months, and Spain was never on my radar before then as a destination I’d want to visit let alone live. As a result, my understanding of Spain and Spanish culture was very cursory, and I’ve been learning a lot on the ground.

    • I thought Spain was the land of the siesta, or mid-day nap, but Madrid is a city with things to do, so they don’t take siesta. I say “they” as in most people and businesses, but occasionally, when going about the city at the wrong time, you’ll encounter a business that’s closed at 2pm. But when they’re closed, another, similar business is open.
    • Dogs aren’t on leashes sometimes, but people with large dogs will often have them wearing muzzles. It’s still startling for me to see a dog… walking itself, and its human coming behind by several feet. I try not to be judgmental about it, and the dogs are all really well behaved. I’m always paranoid that they’ll run off into the street or they’ll bite someone who reaches out to pet them (which, by the way, most people don’t do, touch other people’s dogs). And dog poop is everywhere.
Photo by Pete Bellis on Unsplash
  • There is no urgency. Ever. People take their time responding to emails, waiters don’t attend to you, people walk slowly. In the US, this attitude is often attributed to the countryside, but Madrid is a capital city with no hurry. I’m from a small town in the US, but have spent the last several years of my life living in Baltimore and working in DC. I’ve become urgent in everything I do and everywhere I go (if you ask my sister, I’ve always been pressed). I run up stairs or take them two at a time, I run down and up [depending on the length] escalators, I’m always speedwalking to wherever I need to be. Spaniards just don’t do that.
    • What they do often, is bump into you, walk way too close to you, never say excuse me or sorry, and often block your path by standing in the middle of the street, crossing directly in front of you without enough time to clear the path, and so on. It’s a weird combo of Spaniards not being in a rush, but when they are, knocking you over to get somewhere. Not to mention, some streets cars can drive on, others they can’t, so more often than not you’ll find yourself being honked at by a truck. There seems to be very little rhyme or reason. And scooters park on the sidewalk, so don’t be surprised to see a Vespa leaving the street and intercepting your walking path to park.
      • The first weeks I took all of this personally (They’re ignoring meeee! They’re treating me poorly ’cause I’m American/Black! They’re so rude to meeee!), but I’m slowly seeing that the lack of urgency and impoliteness is cultural. It’s cultural, but it’s lost in translation! It aggravates me, and I’m curious to see if I either grow to be okay with it, if I become one of them, or if I never get used to it. I’m not sure.
  • I can see how you can get by here and never learn Spanish. I’ll be teaching English here and am expected to only speak English at school, and not let the students on that I know/am learning Spanish. My school involves a bit of a commute, so outside of school, I know my schedule will be tight, almost too tight to maintain Spanish lessons. Because Madrid is a capital city, tourism is high and English remains a lingua franca, so most waiters, retail workers, bartenders, and so forth speak English. If you go into a store, and hesitate for just a second if they ask if they can help you, they immediately switch to English. It’s going to take a lot of effort to make sure that I come away from this with Spanish.
  • It’s so hot. Nothing else to add here. It’s hot, most apartments, including my own, do not have AC. My room is facing the interior patio, and thus there’s rarely a breeze. I’m just hot most days so far. I cannot wait for Fall. I relish the opportunity to wear sleeves.
  • Tinto de Verano is amazing. I love it so much. I don’t know what I’m going to do once Fall hits.

  • I really can’t cook, and I can’t live off pastries alone, and I can’t keep eating out. I don’t know if it’s the altitude, but some recipes I’ve had to seriously adjust because the meat feels different, the chicken cooks differently, or the spices I have just ain’t getting the job done. I’m having to relearn and practice new recipes on the go, because as much as I love seeing my homies and hanging out at the bar, it’s a lifestyle I just can’t sustain. A girl needs to get her tattoos and plane tickets, man.
  • Travel around Europe can be pretty darn cheap, so be prepared to snatch a flight when you see it. Right now, flights to the UK for October are under 100 Euros. It’s not a game, and it’s about to go down… just as soon as I see that first paycheck.
  • I’m getting used to hanging clothes up again, but I will forever fear dropping them to the bottom floor. Here in Spain, most apartment buildings are built so that they form squares, with an interior patio. Here is where you hang your clothes. I used to hang my clothes to dry every now and then back home, but never on the 7th/8th floor. I really don’t want to drop my panties and have to go downstairs to my 1st floor neighbor’s to pick them up!

That’s it for now, I’ll add some more details about what I’ve learned about the lifestyle and myself so far in this Wednesday and Friday.

See you then!

Kristina

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2 comments

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This is some cool ass shit!!! Keep it up and get the word out about your blog!!!

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Thanks! I’m working on getting the word out!

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