It’s starting to feel like this place gets better everyday. I know I already mentioned this, but the first day was immensely hard. With some programs the culture shock takes time to set in as you discover bit by bit what that culture is all about. With the Spain program, the culture shock is immediate, most likely because of the language difference. It’s like I was plucked from my roots and dropped in the middle of the ocean and told to swim. The first moments seemed hopeless, but with determination and appreciation, I know I’ll learn to fly. And that’s what I’ve wanted my whole life is to learn to fly.
Today we went back to the city, and fue muy increíble! There is so much to do in the center of Madrid, and one thing is for certain: I am putting a ton of mileage on my sneakers. That’s because there are things to see, of course. I think we stumbled upon el Parque del Retiro today, and there was a huge statue of Don Quijote and Pancho.
After exploring some more and looking at the amazing architecture, Crystal and I ate our first Spanish pizza, which I might add was surprisingly good. We also went to una Chocolateria and had crepes with bananas and Nutella. It may sound a little strange, but it was absolutely fantastic. In La Puerta del Sol, we saw Madrid’s version of Occupy Wall Street. Yesterday, our program director told us that the movement actually began in Madrid in La Puerta del Sol, and though people aren’t camping out, they’re still angry.
As many of you may know, Spain’s economy is in crisis. We hear about it at home all the time, and to many people in the States, it may just be another aspect of the news. Here, however, you can see the crisis. It’s even affected my host family, who once owned three furniture stores.
“When injustice becomes law, rebellion becomes obligation.”
Apart from just exploring the city, however, Crystal and I are getting used to living with a host family. Conchi, our host mother, is helping us a lot with just about everything. It’s still pretty difficult to express myself and say what I want to say, but Conchi and Marta are eternally patient. So far, I’ve asked them just about every question about the Spanish language that you could imagine. They always correct me but assure me that it’s just because they know I want to improve. I’m hoping that what people say about the language clicking after three months is true, because I would love that. After all, I’m surrounded by the language everyday so it should sink in soon. Necesito practicarla! I will admit, though, it’s nice to have Crystal to talk to in English.
Tomorrow, we are going back to the center of Madrid, but with our group this time. We’re going to go to El Museo del Prado, and I’m pumped to say the least. I hope that it’s everything I’ve imagined and more. Conchi says that it takes four days to see everything the museum has to offer, but we’ll definitely get an overview.
Ahora, cenar. Hasta luego, amigos 🙂