Some brief updates on the trip thus far... And bear with me, I´m using a spanish keyboard and it is un poco dificil.
School during a month-long trip in Spain is cruel and unusual, but I have really cool professors and the work is doable. I have class 8:30-1, and have to leave the house at or before 7:45, because it takes a while to get there via the metro (subway). The cafeteria is probably the most bizarre part of school to me. You order what you want at a machine, pop in some euros, get a ticket, and take it to someone behind the counter. There are no lines. It is every man for himself in the cafeteria. But the worst part is the coffee... Don´t get me wrong it tastes great! It´s just that ¨to go¨coffee is like a foreign idea here... I ordered a coffee the other day and a señor handed me a little baby tea cup with hot milk and a little baby shot of espresso. And a huge packet of azucar. And a little baby spoon. My next attempt involved me playing sherades at the counter, trying to convey I wanted coffee TO GO, con una copa?¿?¿? Cafe salir???? I was finally understood, but still was only given a little baby cup. DOES CAFE GRANDE MEAN NOTHING HERE??????? At least in the universidad, there aren´t different sizes to choose from. Just the one. Other than nearly passing out of exhaustion every time I blink, due to the never ending jet lag, school isn´t bad. My ability to speak and understand spoken spanish has already increased 150%... my ability to understand the difference between imperfect and preterite???? ESTARE NUNA ENTIENDE.
I´ve met the BEST people here so far, and made the BEST friends. I´m so glad I came in June, the same time as all of the other ISA students. I feel like I will leave Spain with great friends I will keep in touch with. It´s also been a fun experience meeting people from around the world, and trying to talk to them. Most of the time, it´s harder understanding english with thick accents, than it is to understand spanish. Another thing--it is funny how easy it is to spot an American. The other night at a discoteca, I was walking up the stairs (a 7 story club), and 2 OBVIOUSLY Americana boys were walking up the opposite direction. Sin hesitation (spanglish), I yelled, "YÁLL ARE AMERICAN." One of them quickly responded, "YOU´RE TEXAN." I mean, close enough, I said "y'all" They were from Che-cyaah-gow. Anyways. I at least try to blend in with the culture, and not wear American slogan tees, or sorority tops, or Norts, but there is no escaping the aura that is America. Todo la gente lo saben.
Que mas.... My favorite people to meet are Britains. Solely because it´s a golden opportunity to show off my award-winning British accent (thank you Harry Potter). I struck up a convo with 2 girls the other day in the line at Kapital (the 7 story discoteca, or club), and they were British and SO FUN. We talked about how spanish guys are pigs, and how it´s weird that guys don´t buy girls drinks in spain. I also did my accent for them, and said words like ¨comfe¨and ¨happy christmas, ron¨and ¨i like to drink tea¨and then they showed me their accent, which sounded pretty much like a Californian valley girl ¨like oh my gawwdd, like so totally for real, like crazy¨was their impression verbatim.
Una otra cosa... Spanish women are beautiful!!! All of my professors look 10 years younger than they are. They are fit, and have great skin and hair. I never see fat people. Everyone is dark haired, and casually dressed at all times--but not a casual like "American" casual. People don´t go around wearing sweat pants, shorts, or t-shirts. People wear jeans here. It doesn´t matter how hot it is. Shorts are generally inapropriate unless you´re engaging in physical activity, says my professor. I do see younger girls wearing shorts often, but most likely they aren´t from Madrid. Professors dress very casual to class, as in jeans and a nice shirt, or I have one teacher that wears leggings and a cute top every day. No one wears heels, except maybe going out on the weekends. The professors dress much nicer at Tech. But the students here look nice for school. Jeans and cute tops, full make up and hair. Very much unlike summer school at Tech.
I feel like no one is shy in Madrid because everybody is so anonymous. Everyone has the mentality that they´ll never be seen or heard from again, and it is kind of that liberating feeling that you can do/say anything you want, to anyone you want, because it will most likely be the only time you´ll ever see them. Which makes for fun night life experiences. Everyone is everyone´s friend. In both the creepy and fun way. If you´re in Madrid, you´re from Madrid. A common saying here, or una frase comun.
One of the most fun nights here, was my second night here. It was Friday, so of course my newfound friends and I had to hit the town. We came upon an irish pub called ´"Dubliner´s" and low and behold, there was a bachelor party going on. Let me tell you, 5 American girls, mostly blonde, in an entire bar full of dudes with thick accents from Amsterdamn and Manchester, was an experience to be had. They all had face masks of the groom to be, and from what I can tell from the pictures we all had an insane time. Crazy enough, we met a group of guys from America and one of them ACTUALLY went to Tech????????? SMALL WORLD MUCH?????????????????
More small world happenings... one of the girls I immediately became friends with here, is childhood life long friends with a girl I hang out with all the time at Tech. Crazy.
Then, my sister texts me the other day that one of her best friend´s little brother is in Madrid and that I HAVE to meet up with him. With a little light facebook creeping on her part, she discovers that he actually knows a girl that I just met here in Madrid.. WEIRD¡¿¡¿ So the 3 of us met up and hung out that night at Kapital, sang kareoke, and overall had such a fun time.
Still not done. Some random Italian guy we all met at a club, added us on Facebook, and seeing our mutual friends, which I expected to be ZEROE, he is friends with my little¿¿¿???!¿!?¿!?¿!?!? How does that happen??? HE IS FROM ITALY????' didn´t speak a word of english. So bizarre.
Our first excursion was last weekend, and we went to Toledo and Escorial. They are small towns outside of Madrid, both have very famous cathedrals and paintings. I. LOVED. TOLEDO. I actually really lucked out because our excursion fell on a really important weekend in Toledo. It was Corpus Christi there, and there was a huge concert (which we thought we missed when we showed up at midnight, but it in fact didn´t even start until 1:30), and street festivals/parties/decorations. The best part was in Escorial, when we went to the famous cathedral there. Very rarely, certain windows in the church are opened up to reveal a statue and garden in the centre of the church, and it only happens certain weekends of certain years, as I recall. Happened to happen the weekend I went!!! It was so beautiful. The whole Escorial cathedral tour has been my favorite part of this month so far. The stories, architecture, environment, paintings, furniture, EVERYTHING, it was all so incredible and beautiful. And we had a funny tour guide so that helped. I want to go back to Toledo and Escorial one day.
Interesting night life in Toledo... we went to a bar that was once a church, now turned into a bar, and it definitely had the old school church feel to it. It played really random music, but when ¨"Mr. Brightside" came on, my extermely gringo friends and I sang every word, solely because we could. They play American music everywhere here, even though they don´t know the words. Bizzare. We went to another bar that was American rock and roll themed, with pictures of Buddy Holly (reppin LBK), The Stones, Elvis, and Madonna. The whole time I was there, the bar just played the stones. LOVED IT.
Then a huge group of us got lost trying to walk back to our hotel, so we finally flagged down a random car on the street, asked for advice, they told us to find a hotel and call 2 cabs, and that is exactly what we did. What an adventure that was, condensed to 1 sentence for this blog.
My host families have cooked INCREDIBLE food. Homemade empenadas, gazpacho, pincho de tortilla, and even familiar things like pasta, pizza, and stir fry (all homemade of course). The most interesting meal was probably the french toast with a side of corn rice and fresh tomatoe wedges with herbs and olive oil. Sounds like a really weird combination. But it was DELISH. The french toast was like..... not sweet.... but more like.... buttery and salty? No puedo explica. Then there are the tapas. Me gusta the tapas. Then there is the tinto de verano, sangria, nutella crepes, gelato, and everything inbetween. What is actually really hard to get used to is the TIME they eat. Breakfast is a peice of fruit around 7:30, luch is huge around 3, and dinner is around 11. I. Do. Not. Eat. After. 9. In. America. Usually. So it´s been quite the adjustment. And then there is the fact that the host families care so much about feeding you, that even if you´re not hungry at 11 pm, they really want you to eat, boarderline forceful about it. (AKA me last night.... NO MAS COMIDA POR FAVOR, NO TENGO HAMBRE.) But at least it´s delicous food.
I´m currently at the university, starving, and now off to go home and see if almuerzo is prepared, even though it´s still technically considered morning (it´s 2:25 pm). AND THEN PARTAKING IN THE SIESTA.