Do you know those days when you look around and you think to yourself, I’ve spent some money. But the only reason I know that is because I no longer have any money, and I have nothing to show for it.
That’s pretty much every day for me, because I have no idea how to handle my money, but this was not my case when I arrived in Madrid. I walked into my apartment after a tedious eight-hour flight looking forward to a long siesta in what was sure to be a dismal closet or a well-lit coffin, and instead one of the nicest apartments I’ve ever seen. There were three bedrooms in total, all of them singles, and two bathrooms. The rest of the apartment included a modest-sized kitchen, a generous dining room table, a living room with a cable TV, and an enclosed terrace/sunroom with a nice view. Apparently every cent of my tuition for the IES Madrid program went to procuring an incredible apartment.
I am fairly dependent on my two roommates, Jackie and Lindsay because 1) they’re cool and 2) I have no sense of direction whatsoever. Every time I leave the apartment, I wonder whether or not I will ever be able to find my way back. Apparently my internal compass is calibrated to absolutely nothing. So that first afternoon, when I was so tired from my eight hour plane ride that I could have run my fist through a wall, I agreed to go to lunch with my roommates rather than go to sleep. I’m not going to lie, drinking a beer at 2 in the afternoon when my internal clock tells me it’s 8 am was not the best plan I’d ever had. When I woke up from a 90-minute post-lunch nap, I felt like someone had taken my brain out of my skull and put it somewhere else.
Regardless of how I was feeling, I had to meet some other students at 7 pm for a walk around our neighborhood. Most of the mandatory scheduled activities during IES orientation involved walking around, which usually devolves into a bunch of us sitting in a bar somewhere because let’s be honest, there are bars everywhere in Madrid, and walking is hard.
That night, my roommates and some of the other students in the program went to a popular neighborhood bar called La Sureña, and then to an Italian restaurant for dinner. I opted to go to sleep early that night because we had to get up at 7 the next morning for orientation.
My efforts to go to sleep early were in vain; I slept through my alarm, missing the opportunity to make coffee. I don’t know if I can stress the importance of this enough. Coffee is a big deal to me. Even on 10 hours of sleep, coffee is a big deal to me. My day does not start without it, my life does not start without it, and my 90-question Spanish placement exam certainly does not start without it. Therefore, all of my energy between the hours of 8 am and 2 pm went to keeping my heart beating and my eyes open. There may have been a placement exam tucked in there at some point, but I can’t be sure.
My favorite part of the first day was the security orientation. IES brought in some policía who, instead of really talking to us, showed us a horrifying video that stressed the concept that the Spanish will steal from you, and they will enjoy it. Remember kids, theft is not just common, it is inevitable. Good life lessons, my friends.
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Bria Godley is a psychology major at Yale University from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She gained her passion for travel as a child when she traveled to Europe, Asia, Australia and South America with her family and hopes to continue to travel throughout the rest of her life. Academically, Bria is interested in neuroscience, philosophy, and literature. Bria’s extracurricular interests include singing, writing, and taking multiple naps per day. She looks forward to chronicling her time in Madrid.</span></p>