OH MY GOD I’ve been a terrible blogger.  I really do enjoy blogging but with grad school work eating up my time, it hasn’t been on my list of priorities.  There’s always something else that needs to get done.  Pay rent.  Grocery shopping.  Classes.  Schoolwork.  Studying.  Cleaning apartment.  This is what my life has become for the past couple of  months.  I keep putting “updating blog” on my list of to do off.

So last time I wrote I said I would talk about Spanish cultural observations but I’ll save that for the next post because a lot has happened since I last updated.

So we are all settled into our new apartment and we now have a 4th roommate! She is from our program so that made it easier to find one.  We did advertise on idealista.com, a popular site to advertise apartments/rooms in Spain and we had some girls come visit, but once the girl from our program gave us the go ahead, it was all set.  It’s been fun having somebody else live with us.  I am so blessed to have a good living situation this year and an amazing apartment in a nice neighborhood.  It’s going to be so hard giving up this apartment next year when I leave because I honestly don’t think I’m ever going to find one as good as this one.  It may not be perfect but when I compare this place to all the places I lived in college and the first place I moved in here in Madrid, this place seems like heaven.  I realize I have yet to post pictures of this apartment on Facebook.  I think I may resort to stealing the pictures from my roommate because I don’t think my room will ever be presentable enough to have its picture taken.  (Sorry Mom, Madrid did not cure me of my inherent messiness).

Okay moving on.  I now have 2 intercambios! I can’t remember if I talked about the second one here, I know I’ve mentioned Laura.  Laura and I have met up a few times but it’s sometimes hard to coordinate schedules since she is also taking classes at the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid.  She likes to take me around cultural outdoor places around the center and so far we’ve been to Templo de Debod, this Egyptian pyramid thing that Egypt decided to give to Madrid as a gift, the Sabatini Gardens next to the Palacio Real, and we’ve also walked around the Retiro.

El Parque de Buen Retiro is Madrid’s most famous and most iconic park.  It may not be as big as Central Park but it’s still pretty big.  The park used to belong to the Spanish kings back in the day and it has undergone many changes since its creation.  It was finally opened to the public in 1767 and then became public property of Madrid in 1868 and people have been strolling through its alleys and lanes ever since.  To learn all about its history you can go here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parque_del_Buen_Retiro

One of the park’s most famous landmarks is the large man made ponds with all the little rowboats people can pay to go out and row about.  It’s super cheesy but it could definitely make for a good date.  The Rosaleda rose garden is also another popular feature and it’s kind of designed like a labyrinth with a bunch of fountains interspersed amongst the walkways.  There’s a sculpture of the Fallen Angel which apparently is supposed to be kind of well-known…. Laura kept searching for it as we walked around and we eventually found it.

There’s also another smaller pond with the Palacio de Cristal (Crystal Palace, duh) overlooking it.  I’m not too sure what it is doing in the middle of the park but it’s basically this entire building made out of glass.  I think it’s now used to display art exhibitions.  There was some kind of sculpture in there when we walked by–a tower made out of laundry baskets, I kid you not.

It was a Sunday as we walked around and since a lot of stores are closed on Sundays, el Retiro was crawling with people.  There were a lot of magicians putting on shows for people and other street performers, it had a carnival like atmosphere in some places.  We pretty much walked around the entire park, my legs really hurt after all that!

As for my other intercambio, Miguel, we’ve met pretty consistently about every week and for some reason, we always meet by Madrid’s Atocha train station and meander down Paseo del Prado to sit on a bench directly in front of the famous museum.  I haven’t been to the Prado yet since I’ve been here but I feel like I can wait until my parents get here.  No sense in visiting the museum 965 times.  Anyways this week we met on Sunday morning and it seems the Prado is free on these days since there was a loooooong line of people waiting to get in.

I have to say Laura speaks English pretty well compared to Miguel who only has a very basic knowledge of English.  I don’t mind though and I let him take his time as he comes up with sentences and then asks me questions asking me why you say something a certain way or why you would use this word instead of that word.  That’s how a lot of our conversations are.  The other day I was trying to ask why the word “comida” has 3 meanings in Spanish and why they just have to all be related to food.  Seriously! It’s ridiculous.  Comida means meal, but it also means food, but also guess what, it also means lunch.  How do you distinguish between the 3?!?! Miguel didn’t seem to understand my confusion so I kept interjecting the Latin American word for lunch which is “almuerzo” (and what I also learned in my Spanish classes back in the US but they apparently do not use that word in Madrid) and giving him the English equivalent so we could differentiate between the 3.  Most confusing conversation of my life! He seems to think that a lot of the things that confuse me are hilarious.  But seriously, “como mi comida!” (I eat my lunch) That’s such a dumb sentence! How do you know if you’re talking about a meal, food, or lunch?

I’ve also learned from Miguel Spaniards are accent snobs and don’t really like South American accents! But that doesn’t surprise me too much.  Spain considers itself the grandfather of the Spanish language and the way they conjugate their verbs, pronounce their words, and the words they use are the right ones.  Of course.  Even though the RAE (Real Academia Espanola, the Spanish version of l’Academie Francaise), the governing body of the Spanish language does acknowledge the South American variants of the language.  I just think it’s funny because English doesn’t really have a governing body unless you want to count the Oxford English dictionary or Merriam-Webster.  I think Americans and British people and the rest of the English speaking people get along fine language wise.  Yes we have differences in spelling/word choice but we don’t make as big a deal as Spain does with South America!

And that’s it for now.  Short post, I know but it’s probably better that way.  I have trips to Sevilla/Cordoba and Salamanca to cover and I’ve learned not to try to cram too much information in one post.

I PROMISE I will blog again this week!

Amelie