I'm short of being a seasoned traveler, but the quick pace of this program and jet setting to a new city every few weeks has me feeling like I've mastered the whole system. In Paris, I carried my Metro map with me everywhere, frantically checking and double checking to make sure I was headed on the right train in the right direction. Now that I'm in my third city and navigating my third metro system, I need only glance at the map to confirm that I'm going where I need to. It's almost as if I've earned my "Metro Certification" and can direct myself in any public transportation system with ease.
It's a bizarre feeling to come into a new city with no preconceived notations. Paris was the City of Love, the crêpes, the baguettes, the posh lifestyle. Rome was the center of ancient history, with pizza and monuments galore. Madrid is one big, beautiful question mark in my mind. For such a bustling capital city in Europe, it doesn't hold the same reputations as, say, Barcelona or Ibiza. However, I'm so excited for this blank slate; to create my own ideas and impressions of this city without clouding judgment.
But before I can begin to talk about my first twenty-four hours in Madrid, I need to reminisce on my last week in Rome. I've said it before and I'll say it again -- Roma, I love you! We visited the Galleria Borghese, the Vatican Museum, and even got a special pass to see the conservation labs in the Vatican Museums. Now, my museum nerdiness is going to show big time here, but man, was that cool! A security guard escorted us past the red tape and down into the labs where we saw conservators, art historians, and artists working together to restore 14th century paintings. We even saw a one thousand-year old painting that was recently discovered and restored and I got to stand so close to it in this intimate and artistic atmosphere. It was beautiful, and I loved seeing the management and operations of a museum of such a grand scale. What a wonderful thing to say that I've seen! I know I'll be the envy of all my museum folk back at school.
Another thing I've noticed is my anxiety, or lack of. In the plane here, yes I was anxious, but I had it under control. Driving into the city, going into new shops, communicating with Spaniards would've given me anxiety a month ago, but it doesn't now. As I've said before, my anxiety is a constant battle, and I cannot tell you how much of a burden has been lifted off of my shoulders that it hasn't been lingering around lately. I think it's a combination of my newfound confidence and acquired traveler smarts, but whatever it is, I'll have more please! I'm a new and improved Kelly - thank you studying abroad!
I was definitely sad to leave Rome, but I was excited to move onto our last adventure. We arrived to hot, sunny Madrid yesterday afternoon and I have been impressed countless times in the past day. We're in a great, safe area, our apartment is so beautiful, and there's the biggest park of the city only a few blocks away. We went out for lunch with the IES Abroad Madrid administration and I swore that each new tapa that came out was "the best thing I've ever had." Today was a free day and we just walked and explored our area and had a great time doing so. Madrid, what an impression thus far! With temperatures breaking 100 degrees this week, I'm putting on my fair share of sunscreen (yes mom, I'm wearing it!) and wearing my flowiest dresses. Vamanos!
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<p>I'm Kelly, 21-year old senior anthropology and museum studies student at Indiana University. When I'm not working or studying, you can find me drinking too much coffee, watching unhealthy amounts of tv, or writing one of the 4 stories I've started - usually all at the same time. Lover of pugs, the color green, and good wines. My blogs are for you if you're interested in traveling with anxiety, culture discussions, bad puns, tourist-y photos, sarcasm, and many, many useless facts.</p>