This is the inaugural post for my “I’m in Spain!” blog, which I will continue to publish here. To contact me, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and email are all golden.
Having settled in, and completed our two-week orientation, I am steadily becoming aware of the subtleties of Madrid life. But I’ll start with the immediate observations.
Spaniards talk fast. Really fast. Faster than Latin Americans, and definitely faster than English speakers. Having learned only from Latin American professors for the past five years (and therefore never having heard a Spanish accent), as well as having harbored an overinflated sense of ability, here I am the space cadet American. My deer-in-headlights look outshines Blue Steele and even Magnum. It’s Oscar-worthy.
My Spanish has rapidly picked up the slack. Out of necessity.
Which is good, considering how often I get lost.
I live in Romeo. Which is small. Even Ann Arbor pales in comparison to Madrid. In fact, a Complutense professor visited orientation to discuss university culture and said, of his graduate studies at Michigan, that American schools are “in the middle of nowhere” and that Ann Arbor failed to entertain him for more than four nights.
Madrid is massive, and my feet hurt. Where am I? Yet every time I’ve gotten lost, I’ve apparently made it back home. So good, so far! I am sure my parents find that reassuring.
Another reason my feet hurt: Spaniards party until six o’clock in the morning, every Thursday, every Friday, and every Saturday. My host mother calls it juevedomingos —Thursundays, in English —like one long party. Spaniards have an insatiable appetite for (responsibly consumed) alcohol, dancing, and fiestas, and yet they never take siestas. The Spanish siesta is apparently a myth, much to my feet’s disappointment. And as an American, where the clubs turn down at two, this is exhausting. This lifestyle is unsustainable. How do they do it?!
Despite my constantly ragged, overwhelmed, confused American appearance, the Spaniards are wonderfully accommodating. Aside from one late-night street flasher, an experience that will haunt me until my grave, dear God, these people have cultivated a culture of wholesomeness, love, and raunchy public displays of affection. They opt not to partake in Midwestern-esque small talk, or insincere well-wishes to anyone, instead truly caring about a select few. You feel it. In professors, in host families, in friends. They rarely smile. They stare unashamedly at anyone for any reason. Yet the love, albeit less obvious, may be more concentrated than in American culture.
Right now, it is one o’clock in the morning here, and I start class tomorrow, so this will close my first post. But one final note: I wrote the first paragraph above on the flight here. (Well, that particular flight was delayed twice and cancelled, so technically wasn’t the flight here. But no matter.) In my naivety, I wrote, “And I'll be four months removed from Donald Trump. I can't wait.” However, in the first newspaper that I bought, wouldn’t you know it: An entire page dedicated to the oracle himself. He is inescapable. Delicious.