It's the Little Things

Julia Ebben
January 23, 2020
El Alcázar Segovia Tile

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how the little details really serve to shape a larger experience. So, I just thought I’d share some of the little things that I’ve been noticing & some that I’ve truly been appreciating in Madrid so far. I’ve only been in the city for just over a week now, but there’s already been a lot of more minute details that have served to make me feel both cheery and comfortable.

1. The food - I could really probably devote a whole blog post to this already, but I’ll hold off for now. Food can be a really loaded topic for me, having an allergy and being worried about a host family maybe not wanting or knowing how to accommodate for that. But, my host family has been so incredibly great about the whole thing! On the day I arrived, my host mom had already bought a loaf of gluten-free bread and gave me some as a part of lunch, immediately easing any food-related worries I had; that little action also just made me feel so much more comfortable in the house in general. In addition, on my first night with the family, we stopped at a grocery store to stock up on even more gluten-free food stuff. Since then, every single meal has been so delicious (& gluten-free)! We’re talking tomato salad, chicken, rice with garlic, & bread; homemade pumpkin soup with fried eggs & bread; salad with tuna, tomatoes, & beets with homemade French fries and chicken; pan-seared fish with rice & tomato sauce - so, so good.

2. My host mom not only washes my laundry, she then goes on to iron and fold it! As someone who has been doing my own laundry since the third grade, I feel so incredibly spoiled by this. For the next four months, I will probably look the most put together that I ever have.

3. My schedule has been rearranged so that I’ll be able to attend rugby practice with one of the teams at the local university. I went on a cleat-buying adventure on Monday during a few free hours in the afternoon! I am excited to not only involve myself with a sport I enjoy but be able to simultaneously further integrate myself into Spanish life.

4. While we’re discussing little things, I feel compelled to mention that the details in el Alcázar de Segovia (a castle in Segovia, Spain) were incredible. Everything was so intricate & very intentionally crafted. It’s those kind of small details that awe me. A few photos to make an attempt at demonstrating the types of stunningly deliberate details I’m talking about:

    

    

    

5. I went for my first run about a week after arriving, and it was joyous. I broke in a new pair of shoes and ran to & through one of Madrid’s most famous parks, Retiro. Spectacular.

6. This week I also decided to run & signed up for the Madrid half-marathon in April. Exciting stuff!

7. I am a few days into my classes, & I am understanding almost everything. Considering that every single class I attend is taught wholly in Spanish, this is a really nice feeling to be understanding a lot of what’s being said. I am starting to get to know a few of my classmates, & that is nice as well.

8. Speaking of getting to know people, I feel that I’m starting to become good friends with some of my program mates! It is so nice to pass familiar faces in the hallway and say hi, even if just to chat for a few seconds before heading to our respective classes.

9. I have been thinking a lot over the past few weeks about how grateful I am for a generally healthy body that is capable of so much. I think it’s sometimes only in something’s absence that we realize its value. Following a doctor’s appointment this past Monday evening, I found out that my bronchitis has morphed itself into a nice, little sinus infection. While I don’t enjoy feeling under-the-weather, I am happy to have access to quality medical care and medications (which will hopefully help me kick this thing once and for all).

10. The other afternoon, while walking through one of Madrid’s nicer neighborhoods, I was listening to music and just enjoying my amble through the city and taking in my surroundings and generally feeling content & upbeat. While taking in my surroundings, I just happened to look up and noticed that a lot of the undersides of the apartment balconies were tiled with really fun & different tiles. & I know it sounds a bit sappy and foolish perhaps, but it just made me happy to have looked up in that moment and to have been able to appreciate a tiny detail of the city that I’m sure many people pass under day after day without ever noticing.

On a larger scale, I’m really grateful that everything is going so well. I tried not to set any concrete expectations for this semester, but, having said that, I think it’s going better than I could have expected anyhow. & for that, I’m really grateful. Hopefully, this superb beginning is just a glimpse of what’s to come throughout the next four months.

Ciao for now!

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Julia Ebben

<p>Hi! I'm Julia, and I'm a junior at the University of Michigan, who is currently studying in Madrid! I am really happy to be working on my Spanish again after taking a few years off from the language to learn German. Outside of my language learning endeavors, I spend my time playing rugby and drinking copious tea with my friends.</p>

Destination:
Term:
2020 Spring
Home university:
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
Hometown:
Lake Orion, MI
Major:
International Studies
Political Science
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