Ok so I’m finally getting around to updating this blog! Sorry for the delay (not that anybody really noticed, Mom is the only one who religiously reads this).
Anywho, I am finally in Madrid and I’ve been here for 2 weeks. I’m settled in and sort of getting to know the neighborhood I live in, which I think is called Prosperidad according to my Streetwise Madrid map. (Just an aside, I LOVE those things. I always take my Manhattan one when I go there). I really like the neighborhood I’m in. We’re close to everything: banks, supermarkets, pharmacies, cell phone stores (which is good since I now have an Orange cell phone), and other necessary places. There’s even a McDonald’s right across the street from one of the two close metro stops. Not that I’m ever going to go there (maybe for the occasional McFlurry).
One store that has incredibly random but useful things is across the street from our building, run by a friendly Chinese couple from Shanghai. It’s where I bought my fan my second day here (and they were probably the only store not closed on Sundays) and where we (me and my flat mates) bought the little shopping cart thing that old ladies in Spain drag around grocery stores to put their food in. That is not a picture of the one we bought. Ours has a more plaid design. Anyways, it’s common for Spaniards to refer to these kinds of stores as “los chinos” because… well I guess there are a lot of Chinese immigrants running these kinds of places? I don’t know, the only one I’ve seen so far is the one across the street.
I do not live in the center of the city. That would be more around the Plaza Mayor/Puerta del Sol area which I’ve already been to a few times already. Puerta del Sol is what Times Square is to New York, it’s where all the tourists gather and take pictures. It’s also where all the major highways in Spain start. In addition, there is a statue of a bear leaning up against a tree which is the symbol of the Madrid City Hall.
I like my apartment and I like my flat mates (two other girls from the NYU program). There is a fourth bedroom where a boy will be moving into in the next few weeks. For the time being, it’s being occupied by our landlord (or technically our sub letter person since she is the one renting the apartment) Elizabeth who is from Venezuela. She speaks very fast and I had a hard time understanding her my first day here. But now my comprehension is a lot better. It’s the speaking I need to work on.
One thing that does annoy me a little is we don’t really have a living room. We sort of do now since Elizabeth helped me move out the unnecessary (and very uncomfortable) Ikea couch out of my room so there would be another couch to watch tv. However, the room is packed with all of Elizabeth’s stuff but whatever, it’s her apartment so she can do as she pleases with the space. I do miss having a spacious communal area though. Well ok, I never really had a “spacious” area in the renovated garage Mimi and I lived in, but we at least did have a common room.
My window in my bedroom overlooks other apartments so no, the view isn’t great. But my room is big, I almost want to say bigger than my bedroom at home. The walls are orange so yes, be prepared for an orange hue when you video chat with me on Skype. I also get to dry my clothes Spanish style by hanging them on the clothesline. This task somewhat terrifies me since there is pretty much no way for me to recover an article of clothing if by chance I let something fall by accident.
Another domestic task that is also scary: cooking. I know most of you are laughing right now since it’s a well-known fact I can’t really cook (and neither can my flat mates so this makes me feel infinitely better about my cooking abilities). Not only that but we have one of those old school gas stoves where you have to turn on the gas and then light the gas with a lighter. We finally got a bigger lighter but my first week here we were using a cigarette lighter. Have you ever noticed how far the flame jumps out when you first turn on the gas? Imagine doing that with a cigarette lighter. Not fun, I nearly burned off my finger a few times. But anyways, I have managed to make spaghetti, rice, broccoli, and carrots. Papa better be proud of me.
The NYU school is about 15 minutes walking distance from where I live. It is SO MUCH NICER than the jail looking place where I took classes in Malaga. Basically NYU took over two private homes, each one facing a different street. In the middle, they took down the fence between the two houses and put in a cute patio where we hang out before classes start and where the smokers can smoke (no one smokes in my apartment, yay! But I did live with smokers in Malaga and Toulouse so whatever, but it’s a nice plus). The first house mostly contains offices. Once you cross the patio into the second house, this is where most of the classrooms are, along with computers, a graduate student lounge (the undergrads don’t get one haha!), and computers for printing. I’m going to go on record and say the Dickinson en France house is a lot prettier but NYU didn’t do too bad.
I have been out a few times but I haven’t done it Spanish style yet which would mean staying out til 4 AM and taking the nocturnal bus back (I haven’t figured out the bus yet). I still am in search of the best tapas/churros con chocolate place in Madrid, that way when the family/friends come I can be all “I know where the best places to eat are in this city!”
Classes start Monday and I’m excited and of course nervous. This is grad school so I’m expecting to get a ton of reading assigned. At the same time, I have no idea what I want to write about for my dissertation. Here’s hoping I figure this out in the months to come!
The orientation week was sort of boring but we did visit some places where I’ll probably be spending a lot of time this year, such as the Instituto Internacional de Espana (where BU and Syracuse students take classes). More specifically, the library in this building which all grad students get a card to so we can take books out. There were few lectures, some boring, some more interesting. We also visited some really weird exhibit at Reina Sofia (the modern art museum), which really disappointed me. I was hoping we would get a guided tour.
Definitely the best part about orientation was going to Segovia again yesterday. I had already been there once before with Dickinson two years ago, but it was during the fall, when there was snow in the mountains. It hasn’t really changed much and the one thing I did get to do this time that I didn’t last time was go inside the cathedral. (I know, ANOTHER cathedral! I think Hermana and I win for visiting the most cathedrals in one life span). Anyways I’m not about to describe Segovia in detail but here’s the Wiki link if you want to know more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Segovia
One cool thing about Segovia is that Isabella I and Fernando V, the Reyes Catolicos (the monarchs who financed Columbus’s voyage across the ocean and gave us Americans a day off from work and school) did live in the Alcazar castle there (the castle which reportedly gave Walt Disney the inspiration for the symbol of his empire). And Isabel was also crowned Queen of Castile there as well.
Last night I was invited over at the apartment where some of the other girls in our program live (and also not very far from where I live either). It was nice to get to know and hang out with other people in the program. I had a lot of fun :).
So who is going to visit me first? Don’t raise all your hands at once! 😛