Every moment since I arrived in Spain has been surreal and packed to the brim with activities. Just about every second since I arrived, I’ve either been going on adventures with IES Abroad and my new friends, or sleeping to recharge for the next adventure. For reference, I was living out of my suitcase until I unpacked it literally yesterday because I didn’t have time to manage my mess of clothes strewn about my room. At this point I’m thanking my lucky stars for the ~siesta~. Yes, the Spanish actually do take naps in the middle of the day. Stores really close for a few hours in the afternoon, and people go home to sleep. I was at the phone store to get my SIM card on day 2, and the employees were rushing me out around 1:50 in the afternoon because they wanted to close right at 2pm.
Every single day holds something new and it’s a lot to take in at once. My friends and I decided that time works differently in Madrid. We’ve been here under two weeks and it feels like we’ve been here forever (in a good way, I promise), so we think the 3 short months we have in Spain will feel like at least a couple years. I guess this is why everyone says studying abroad is so amazing. Even though I will only be here for 3 months of my life, I’m already getting so much out of being in Madrid!
These jam-packed days leave not one single moment to be bored because with so many new friends, someone is always embarking on a new adventure. My abroad experience is off to an incredible start, and I already have a favorite restaurant (but that’s subject to change because my favorite restaurant changes every time I visit a new Spanish restaurant) and don’t worry, I haven’t even thought about walking into an American chain restaurant like McDonalds or KFC yet!
Speaking of food, the first day I had lunch in my dining hall, there were some foods I recognized: French fries and salad. But there were also some surprising things and items I didn’t recognize. One of the things I tried was a fried piece of possibly meat. To be honest, I’m still not sure what it was, but it was yummy. What I did recognize but I wasn’t brave enough to try yet was an entire fish. I’m willing to try just about anything, but on my first day with my stomach still a little offended by the less-than-ideal airplane food, I wasn’t ready to dive in and try the whole fish. Maybe I will figure out what the fried food from my first day was, and maybe I’ll try the fish, but I’m not quite sure yet.
I’m so constantly exhausted from walking around Madrid and traveling to other cities with IES Abroad’s excursions, that my body is being propelled solely by the urge to soak up every moment here. I hoped that I would be able to function during siesta time and call my friends and family back home, but then I remember that I’m ready to pass out the moment I step across the threshold to my dorm room. Not only that, but when I’m taking my late afternoon nap, my family and friends are getting ready for breakfast and our schedules don’t quite align.
Walking around the city I’m still absolutely surprised when I see street signs in Spanish and hear students in my dorm speaking Spanish. Every once in a while, I have to check in with myself. Is this real? Am I really in Spain? My abroad has been canceled twice before, is this real or is it only just a dream? Either way, I’m living out the dream I’ve had for so long, and I’m going to go grab a friend to pinch me to see if this is real.
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<p>I am a student at Gettysburg College '22 studying Political Science, Spanish, and Peace and Justice Studies. Studying abroad in the Madrid - Language and Area Studies Program Fall 2021 is my first real experience abroad and I am excited to engage with the cultural experience I will have access to exploring Spain! In my free time I enjoy baking, cooking, listening to every genre of music, hiking, and other outside activities. I'm so excited to take a break from my small historical battlefield college town and move to a big capital city in a new country with a whole different history!</p>