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A teleférico adventure and my unofficial first full week of classes

Hello, dear readers! I meant to post this a few days ago, but an impromptu trip to Copenhagen delayed the post due to my lack of a computer for the weekend.

Having recovered from my ill-timed stomach bug (though when is a stomach bug really well-timed?), I’ve been enjoying my time thoroughly this past week. Last Saturday, I ventured out of my homestay and across Parque del Oeste to meet up with two friends of mine, Brennan and Zoha, for a ride on the teleférico, the cable car that runs from the eastern portion of Parque del Oeste to Casa de Campo, the massive park on the western half of Madrid.

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Zoha and I on the teleférico.

We were met with beautiful views of Casa de Campo with its combination of worn footpaths, sporadic paved roads, and single trees spread throughout. From up above the park, we could see an astonishingly high number of bikers mountain biking on paths we would later found out were rooty, lumpy, and to a mountain bike enthusiast, perfect for an afternoon wandering through the greenery.

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Casa de Campo before sunset.

When we arrived in the middle of the park, we were told that we’d be unable to take the teleférico back to Parque del Oeste, so we walked towards the nearest metro stop (one full mile away!). However, in terms of park geography, the metro stop was remarkably close, as the park is MASSIVE! Nothing like the dear Central Park I love in NYC, but much, much larger.

On Sunday, I spent most of my day relaxing and catching up on homework. I decided to try out a little microwave-style meal I bought the day before at everyone’s favorite store, El Corte Inglés. Something I’ve had a little difficulty getting used to in terms of being in a homestay is that I don’t have kitchen privileges and can’t cook. It’s not any serious issue, as my señora is an unbelievable chef and whips out 3-course meals on a daily basis, but sometimes I miss cooking and baking (even if I might cook a meal other than breakfast about twice a week when I’m up at school). The solution I found on Saturday: mug cake! In the baking aisle at El Corte Inglés, I found “just add milk” baking packets specifically sized to fit in a mug. I know that from the picture below, you can’t quite tell that I’ve made a delicious chocolate cake. More honestly, it was kind of dry due to the fact that I didn’t mix all the powder into the milk on the bottom, but for cake in a mug, I’d call it a success!

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My successful cake in a mug.

So far, my classes are going well and I’m enjoying them. I’ve already learned that I’m not the most naturally talented at ceramics, as the bowl I made in our class last week already chipped off a corner because I made the bowl too thin. We were instructed to work in a zen-like style called “wabi-sabi” in which everything you do is deliberate and beautiful and your “mistakes” are what make your work unique. I’d like to think that while completely unintentional, my work is very wabi-sabi. I’m thinking about asking the professor if I can come in more often than once a week just to make things and practice, as my homestay is quite close to the ceramics school!

For now, look out for another post within the next week about my last minute trip to Copenhagen! I found a relatively cheap flight with Ryanair on last Tuesday night departing just a few hours after my last class on Thursday, so I thought that I might as well take advantage of the opportunity. I’ll only get to study abroad once, so I might as well buy flights two days beforehand while I can, as it’s way more expensive to get all over Europe when I’m in the USA!