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The Final Days

15 May 2016

Alas, I’ve made it to my penultimate blog post, the last post I’ll write while physically in Madrid. It’s been a whirlwind of a week and a half since my last post, full of LOTS of rain, two finals (one to go!) and a decent amount of packing.

I can’t officially look back on my experience yet as I am still here until I’m back in the states on Wednesday, but I thought I’d use this post as an I’m-still-here-but-almost-gone kind of post. What that means is you get to hear a bit about what I’ve been up to for the last week and a half AND a bit about the highs and lows of my semester here!

Over the last week and a half, I’ve been wrapping up IES Abroad and Carlos III classes by taking advantage of my dwindling time and visiting all my favorite restaurant spots around the city. In my homestay, I’m given two meals a day, which is both a blessing and a curse – I have to find a third meal somehow without cooking (IES Abroad rules!), and that usually means I end up spending more money than I should on food at restaurants! Of course, this means that I have a number of favorite spots, including Banibanoo for Iranian food, Takos al Pastor for tacos, and the unnamed Chinese restaurant under Plaza Mayor next to the entrance to the public parking lot. That last one might sound sketchy, but they always have a line out the door.

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Not the first time I've gone to Banibanoo for Iranian food, not the first time I've blogged about it.

This weekend is a holiday weekend in Madrid for the Fiestas de San Isidro. San Isidro is the patron saint of Madrid, so there’s an entire weekend every year where the city has all kinds of festivals, from swing dancing to food events and even concerts. I went to one of these concerts last night at a music festival called Primavera Pop hosted by a local radio station. Somehow, with a start time of 8pm, they planned on going through 17 artists including a bunch of famous Spanish artists and none other than Nick Jonas.

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Just. Keep. Standing.

This meant that we ended up standing around doing NOTHING for two hours, followed by another three hours of standing and listening to random Spanish artists until Nick Jonas came on and performed…. two songs. Pretty disappointing.

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I liked him a lot better during the Jonas Brothers phase with curly hair.

Now for the interesting part of this post: some highs and lows of my semester!

Highs:

  1. Madrid is a major international airport hub, making travel very easy! I spent many, many of my weekends this semester hopping around to different countries.
  2. Madrid has some of the best tacos I’ve ever had – go to Takos al Pastor and order everything!
  3. My host family here is absolutely wonderful. They’re so welcoming and kind and even nursed me back to health in the great stomach bug of late January.
  4. The weather is a lot warmer than Brunswick, ME. I’m used to 0°F or lower winters in Maine, but here it never really went below freezing temps!
  5. Everything is cheap here! You can get a full 3-course meal for lunch with drink included (wine, beer, or soda) at very good restaurants for under 12€. Lunch is the biggest meal of the day, so restaurants make it easy to get a lot of food for not a lot of money!

Lows:

  1. Commuting time here is very long. I had anywhere between a twenty minute commute and an hour and fifteen minute commute to class depending on the location.
  2. If you’re not a night owl, the nightlife here is very tough. I rarely stay up past 11pm back at home and here, people don’t even go out until 1am.
  3. It is sometimes somewhat difficult to find healthy food with the amount of pork and fried food that Spaniards eat.
  4. People smoke here A LOT. I haven’t been to a city with as much cigarette smoke as Madrid in a very, very long time.
  5. Study abroad can be lonely! While I’ve made friends this semester, living so far from everyone else is very different from what I’m used to at Bowdoin. What I didn’t realize at the beginning of the semester is that everyone feels this way and it’s okay to feel lonely!

I’ll say ciao for now, as I’ve still got one more final to focus on before I leave this Wednesday for New York and for my Chipotle burrito bowl waiting for me at the airport! Check in within a week and a half for some of my immediate impressions returning to the USA and my tolerance for my favorite traveling activity…. jetlag.

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