As my time in Madrid comes to an end, I’ve been thinking a lot about my time here, and some of the initial thoughts and fears. I feared above else, not finding a place for myself, and the opportunities I was leaving behind. In my head, I was scared I was going to end up stuck for four months, in a country where I didn’t speak the language, starting afresh. Perhaps the best words I can use to frame my perspective are encapsulated in one of the quotes I hung up in my dorm room: across the world of what you want and what you came here for. It sounds a little vague, but it’s kind of the mantra I had for the semester. And these four months have been transformative. My room at Residencia Emilia Pardo Bazan had started truly feeling like home. And when I think about it, I am truly glad for the decision I made regarding my housing. While I didn’t ponder the idea of a homestay too hard, namely my inability to speak Spanish, and a discomfort with the idea of having no space created just for me, that was entirely mine. I am the kind of person who has a hard time being reliant on strangers, and the thought of having to adapt to someone else’s schedules, and constantly feeling like I’d be stepping on toes was a little much to handle. Are these concerns justified? Objectively, perhaps not. Numerous blogs on this site detail wonderful homestay experiences. I’ve really enjoyed living in the dorms, and if given the choice again, I’d choose to do it the same.
Upon my initial move to Emilia, I couldn't help but wonder, "Am I still in Madrid?" Situated far north along Line 6, my neighborhood presented a stark contrast to the bustling urbanity of Sol, Atocha, and Chamartín. Nestled deep within the university district, a humorous irony considering my daily trek past four campuses to reach the Leganes metro, over four months, I gradually came to appreciate its location. I kind of enjoyed knowing that I was surrounded only by college students, and that I could walk by myself along the streets if I were returning late into the night without repeatedly glancing over my shoulder. Ignoring the commotion from the residents in my building, my surroundings were peaceful. While the apartments are splendid, it was kind of nice not having to worry about cooking meals and knowing that after a long day, I could simply eat an already prepared meal in the cafeteria, even if the choices and hours were relatively limited. The most important, however, is that I think it’s one of the best ways to meet people. Now, it did have its issues; they weren’t too keen on visitors, and my room on the first floor was directly above authorized construction at the back entrance, which woke me up at 8 a.m. for a month. But coming into the program, pretty much solo, I really loved having a sort of in-built group of people that I could grab a meal with, explore Madrid, and for the company returning home from class. It also made the experience much less lonely, and isolating, which is kind of the biggest issue to confront when moving to a new place. Luckily, I also ended up becoming really close friends with my roommate (we had our own rooms with doors to an interconnected space leading to a shared bathroom and a small kitchenette), and neighbors, which made my experience extremely enjoyable.
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My name is Eeshta Bhatt and I'm originally from Mumbai, India. An avid reader, writer, and dancer; you are most likely to find me sipping coffee with a fantasy fiction novel, watching a murder mystery or charting out new runnining trails.