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Friday, May 30, 2014

Ashley Connelly, Week 1, Madrid

Hi all,

I've finished my first week in Spain and it has been an exciting and exhausting time. This first week I've settled in to my apartment, my internship and Madrid. I arrived in Madrid a few days before my internship and headed straight to my apartment. Ten people from across Europe and the United States live here. There are 2 guys from Spain, 2 guys from France, a girl from Ireland, a girl from Germany, a girl from France, and a girl from California plus another student from the UofM and me. If you've seen L'Auberge Espagnole, it's been a lot like that- minus extra-marital affairs. It's been interesting to meet everyone and navigate the differences between each culture. For instance, yesterday my European flatmates were talking about how Americans can eat really spicy food. They were talking about my flatmate from California´s sriracha sauce. While they could barely handle a few drops, my flatmate adds a bunch to her food and casually eats it. They were amazed by this yet I never thought Americans could handle spicy food. Experiences like this have been quite interesting and have helped me adjust to the lifestyle differences.
Main room/kitchen of my apartment
In addition to adjusting to Spanish life this past week, I have been exploring the city and taking everything in. This past weekend was the Champions League Final between Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid. It was the derby of all derbies and even though it was played in Lisbon, it was crazy here. With a few of my flatmates, I went to the Puerta del Sol to watch the game. We probably should have planned further ahead, because everything was packed. We finally got a table at a bar and watched Real beat Atlético in overtime. Then, the celebration started. People flooded the streets in jubilee and many headed toward Cibeles. Cibeles is where the team comes to celebrate after winning a competition and the capitain of the team ties a scarf around the statue in the center of the round-about. We waited for the team until 6 a.m. when they finally arrived, but we only caught glimpses of the players because the street was so crowded. I was only able to see Sergio Ramos put the scarf on and kiss the statue when my flatmate put me on his back. While I can´t say it was worth the seven hours we waited, it was cool to witness the enitre spectacle.
Waiting for the team in Cibeles
These last few days, however, have been settling into a routine and starting my internship. I work with an NGO that helps unemployed individuals find jobs while providing them and their families with meals. So far, I´ve helped prepare meals for the families and update the user database. While this isn´t typically the kind of work I do, I´ve really enjoyed it and meeting all the people the organization helps. Plus, my co-workers are fantastic; they´ve been super nice and understanding. While for the most part I understand their Spanish or the gist of what they are saying, occassionally they start talking to each other very quick and loud and I have no idea what they are saying. I fear they are arguing until the begin to laugh and everything is okay- or at least I assume so.

I found these pieces of art in a communal garden 
Typically, I stop working around 3 and then, I have ample free time to do whatever. I usually go for a run or a walk. Whatever I do, I always get lost and I have to use the metro stations to find my way back. However, getting lost has been a great way to explore the city. I´ve found some really cool places and art wandering around Madrid including this communal garden with some interesting art in it. My favorite was wandering around Buen Retiro Park. It is this amazing park filled with statues and beautiful flowers. I probably could wander around Retiro for days and still be continuously amazed by it´s beauty.  Retiro and the rest of my experiences so far make me excited to discover more of the city and Spain.

In Retiro 
In Retiro 

1 comment:

  1. Ashley,

    I'm glad that you arrived safe and well! Your living situation does sound like a movie- or a sitcom. I bet you are discovering little idiosyncrasies between all of the cultures. The hot sauce story is a perfect example! It's interesting to hear about how the people/actions from certain cultures can be generalized. I, myself, cannot handle a drop of sriracha sauce.

    The celebration after the futbol game is amazing. There looks like there are hundreds of people in the streets. I appreciate that you described the tradition of tying the scarf around the statue; I never know about anything like that before. This all happened at 6am! Wow!

    Your job sounds like it is going well. What type of work would you "normally" do? (You mentioned that this type of work isn't usually what you do). I like the phrase, written in Spanish, on the yellow banner you posted a picture of. It really shows what the organization is all about. Will you continue to do the same type of work?

    Keep exploring the parks! Be safe. I look forward to your next post.