I have made it to Madrid! It was a miracle that I was able to find my way from the airport to the orientation hotel. They told us to take the aeropuerto express bus to the Atocha Renfe train station stop, but from there we had to walk to the hotel. I was trying to use GoogleMaps, but I had to ask at least six people for directions while lugging around my suitcases and backpack. Unfortunately, not many people in Spain speak proficient English but everyone is pretty much willing to help you out the best they can. This week has been jam packed with CIEE orientation activities at Rafaelhoteles in Atocha, but I am currently writing to you at my homestay in a neighborhood called Chamberí. My lovely roommate Marie and I are staying with a señora in her apartment for the next 2 weeks while we attend Spanish classes. Our señora is very friendly, but she doesn’t speak much English so I guess my Spanish is about to get really good.
I still feel like I am in a dream-like state because everything here is so different! We eat lunch at 2:30, dinner at 9, and people are always out and about on the streets and bars socializing. Fun fact, Spain has more bars than the entire United States. Crazy right? They have this phrase “No pasa nada”, which is embedded in the culture in Spain. It means don’t worry about it or everything will be okay. I’m hoping that this relaxed attitude will continue to rub off on me:) I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to be in a place where people are so friendly and intent on enjoying life in the present moment.
However, I would be lying to you if I said I wasn’t a little homesick. I miss my family, my friends, and the comfort of home. My goal is to keep taking things one step at a time and fully immerse myself in this experience. I will keep you posted on everything and plan to write more once I get settled into a routine here.
P.S. The above picture is my small group from orientation during one of our visits to Sol with the famous statue of a bear kissing a tree!