After an hour-long delay, an hour-long plane flight, a five-hour layover, another six-and-a-half hour plane flight, and a six-hour time difference, I arrived in Madrid tired but high on adrenaline. The site of Madrid city at night was incredible and breath-taking, and though I was nervous to meet my host family, I was excited undertake this adventure. From the airport, we had to take a subway, bus, and taxi to get to our house, and we nearly got lost after the bus. We had to track down someone to call the taxi for us. Hardly anyone we asked had a cellphone on them. That was certainly indicator number one that we weren’t in America anymore.
When we got the the house, we thanked our cab driver and grabbed our things. The house is a earth-tone tan color that resembles a lot of what the houses look like in Arizona. Directly inside, there is a staircase that leads up to our personal apartment. To the left is my host parent’s room and to the right are two doors that lead to the kitchen and living area, respectively. Crystal and I have our own little living space on the second level of the house. We both have our own rooms and there is a living area with a television and a bathroom. Our host mother waits on us, which I’m not quite used to, and she makes us three meals a day and cleans our rooms and even does laundry. They are incredibly nice, but it’s difficult to communicate with them, and sometimes it can be frustrating for both parties.
On day one, I experienced intense culture shock. I thought, wow I’m in a foreign country and can’t even speak the language well! It really helps to live with the host family though, because it forces you to practice! I’m hoping that I will start to get the swing of the language soon, because I want to be able to have a solid conversation. I have the basics, now I just need to adjust to the pace of the language, the accent, the slang, and having to to think extremely hard when I’m listening and speaking. You can never fully appreciate the power of language until you’re thrown into a situation where you can’t express yourself. Talk about eye-opening.
The second two days were far less stressful. Monday we explored the city of Villaviciosa de Odon and discovered that there were more things to do in our little pueblo than we expected. There’s a Macadona, or a grocery store, around the corner and some small shops and restaurants. In the actual city part of the pueblo, there are many more restaurants and places to go. The busing system took a little bit of getting used to and Crystal and I got lost many times. Now, we’re starting to get it. I also registered for classes and am taking photography, investigative journalism, translation, and Hispanic culture.
Today, we went to the actual city center of Madrid, and words fail in describing its magnificence. We saw La Plaza Mayor, La Puerta del Sol, El Palacio Real, and so much more 🙂 In Madrid, there is a restaurant that holds the Guiness World Record for the oldest restaurant in the world. I thought that was pretty amazing. We walked around for hours just looking at everything and getting lost. The architecture took my breath away and the brick and stone roads enhanced the historic feel. You could sense the city’s past as you walked the streets, and that’s something you don’t get in America.