First week in Madrid!

Wow, what a week it’s been! We arrived at the hotel that CIEE had arranged for us to stay at (and by us, I mean 150 English-teaching auxiliares from the US) on Monday. I was actually placed in a room with Melissa, one of my best friends from High School! Upon arrival, though, I promptly took a three-hour nap. The only thing scheduled for that day was a welcome dinner, where I was a bit loopy due to lack of sleep.

The next few days were scattered with orientation sessions and apartment searching, which is quite the process in Madrid. The highlight of my week, however, was meeting my host mom from Sevilla for a lovely lunch in the middle of Madrid! Many of you may already know (since I tend to talk about it incessantly) that I studied abroad in Sevilla during my junior fall semester. I chose to do a completely immersive program with CIEE, including living with a host family. When I told Antonia (my host mom) that I would be living and working in Madrid during this upcoming year, she was thrilled to hear this news, but even more excited because she would be in Madrid on Sept. 2nd.

We met up in Plaza Puerta del Sol and it was so good to see her again! She was with her sister and two friends, and they were stopping in Madrid for the day before flying out to go on a cruise in the Baltic (I joked that she had more travel plans than I did!) The lunch proved to be a great test of my Spanish as the women were talking very quickly. We all ended up ordering the same thing – a delicious Caesar salad and a “broken egg” and potato dish.

The time passed very quickly and we talked about a variety of topics – from my recent graduation, to how Antonia’s family was doing, to whether or not I should come to Sevilla for semana santa (holy week) and/or la Feria. Antonia then showed me pictures on her phone of her dressed up in traditional clothing for the Feria festival that happens in Sevilla every spring (which is such a big deal that Snapchat even does its own story for the occasion!) She then said I would be welcome to stay at her house for Christmas if I so desired.

After meeting with Antonia, it was back to the “real world” of apartment searching. After 25+ whatsapp messages to different potential landlords, 6 visits to apartments and lots of schlepping around Madrid in 90+ degree heat, I was exhausted, to say the least. By the time Saturday rolled around, I had 4 apartment viewings lined up. When I arrived at my first one, though, something about it felt different (in a good way).

First of all, the whole apartment was new and beautiful. Another positive was that the landlord was there with her whole family – her daughter was helping answer any questions we had in English and her husband was putting the finishing touches on the apartment. After about an hour of thinking and reflecting, I decided to go for it and sign my first official lease to rent a room in the apartment! It was a somewhat risky decision, but it has been turning out to be more than worth it.

Though I am paying a bit more than I had originally hoped to, I have a beautiful balcony looking onto the street below me. I also have a collection of wonderful roommates (none of whom I knew before!) – three others are CIEE auxiliaries like myself (Maggie, Sterling and Bianca); a German pre-med student studying in Madrid (Nina) and two working Spaniards (Luís and Paula). We each have our own room and share a kitchen and three bathrooms.

Even though I’ve only spent about four nights in my room, I’ve been able to have wonderful conversations with my roommates and have already made some delicious meals. Overall, it was an incredibly stressful, but also very rewarding, week.

TGT: 1) Finding a wonderful apartment with amazing roommates 2) having lunch with Antonia 3) having a great catch-up dinner with Melissa once we had each moved into our respective apartments (at the same gluten-free pasta restaurant where we had met up when we were both in Madrid two years ago, when I had come from Sevilla and she had come from Granada!)

Until next time,
JK

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