Friday, June 3, 2011

The First Few Days

The first few days of living in Madrid have been a whirlwind! Luckily the plane ride went well, I arrived in Paris with plenty of time to spare before I need to catch my transfer flight to Madrid. One thing that really struck me in Paris was the diversity. There were so many different planes from around the world, the States, China, Africa, Isreal, you name it, it seemed like every country was represented. I also noticed how important it is to be able to speak multiple languages, every employ at the airport could speak fluent French and English, and most can even speak Spanish as well. This stressed the importance of the language classes I will be taking, my parents have always reminded me how the ability to speak Spanish can lead to great oportunities for jobs and much more.

When I arrived in Madrid, my Aunt Josefina and my Great Aunt Hilda were already there waiting for me. We hopped on a bus and cuaght up about all that has been happening since we last saw each other... 8 years! Right now, my aunt and uncle live in a suburb of Madrid called Torrejon de Adroz. At first I thought it was a town or city, but it´s actually a village. We live in a condo, and everybody knows everybody! One of the first things I noticed about the culture is how open, caring, and nice everyone is. In Spain, it is custom to greet women with two kisses on each cheek. There is much less personal space here, and this is one of the biggest aspects I´m learning to adjust to. Other notable differences in culture I´ve noticed so far are:

- A normal day here is much different than in the states. People still get up fairly early, but at night, dinner is not usually eaten until 9:30-10:30 and it´s not unusual for the whole family to go to bed until 1:00 in the morning!

- The food has been great so far! One thing I really like is that every meal is homecooked, and for the most part very nutritous. Meals contain very little sugar and processed foods are rare. Back home, breakfast is usually the biggest meal fo the day for me, but here it´s quite small and the large meal comes at lunch.

- Public transportation is awesome here! Everyone takes the bus and/or the subway (I take both to get to school everyday), it´s convienient and fast!

- The academic setting is much more relaxed. The Spanish culture is not punctual like America, if you walk into class 10-15 minutes late, it´s not considered rude, and the professors are laid back and classes are very informal. My Spanish class consists of about 8 other students from around the U.S., and most of the class consists of discussion. My art professor is very interesting, he really likes to joke with his students, and some of the things he says could be considered borderline harrasment in the U.S.

Overall, things have been going very well so far, sorry for this marathon post, but right now I only have access to the internet while I´m at school. I´ll try to blog about more specifics in a few days. Tomorrow I am going on my first excursion to Sergovia, a town in the sothern part of Madrid. Thank you for your prayers!

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