Post #2: ¡Lo hicimos! We did it!

Boots and Dora affirming the successful completion of my first week in Madrid should be all I need to post this time.

But, I’m nice so I GUESS I’ll write a little more about lo que ha pasado. Even though I didn’t find “100 keys in red boxes”, I had to navigate which of the bajillion keys opens the door to my señora’s (homestay mother’s) apartment. No doorknobs, no problem…I’ll get to that later.

This week was totally crazy. It went from zero to 60 in a nanosecond – from hanging out with just Heather to gallivanting around Madrid with the whole gang. Orientation was great this week. We got to see the site where we will be having classes and met the program directors. Paco, el jefe, has so much energy and you can tell right away that he loves what he does. It has been a pleasure going on paseos por Madrid as a group. However, by being in such a large group (32 people with everyone; 15-ish with Iberian Experience kids), it highlights the major cultural differences right away. You can check out my observations on the “Tips and Tricks” page.

UPDATE: The food is still amazing and the people are still super friendly.

Ok, now let me get to the most exciting part of my trip so far…my homestay! My señora is wonderful. She is so gracious, generous and living with her is like being in Spanish language bootcamp. I am not exaggerating. She was so shocked when I first met her because I didn’t use el ceceo (the “th” sound on the letter combinations “ce”, “ci” and “z” as well as a more whistled and open “s” sound). Trying to incorporate that into my speech, along with relearning vocabulary, has been a challenge. It definitely highlights the inconsistency with Spanish language learning in the U.S. because there are so many different teachers from different countries with different vocabulary and traditions. Diversity in language learning, especially with Spanish, is something that should be celebrated yet in Spain using “incorrect” vocabulary makes you stick out like a sore thumb. I have only been with my señora for four days so there is still time to try and get accustomed. She packs me wonderful lunches every day and she makes me great dinners. Her apartment is also spacious and lovely and she likes chatting with me and watches Grey’s Anatomy in Spanish while I do homework. Muy tranquila. My room is great too and has its own bathroom! Much bigger than my room at home. Too bad it is only temporary! Living with my señora has already taught me so much about culture, the people of Spain and it is helping me improve my conversation skills (something that is not focused on or emphasized really in American classrooms). Also, my neighborhood is in one of the nicest parts of Madrid – it is near the Calle del Paseo de la Castellana which is the major shopping street and is a lovely place to get tapas and take walks during the day or at night. It is also very close to where I go to school (10 minutes on the metro).

Story from my first night: before I moved homestay, my señora picked me up from school. We then went back to the apartment quickly to drop off my luggage and headed out with another student and her señora to learn how to take the metro to school. While we were out and heading to the metro, people were starting to run up out of the metro station. We had no idea what was going on and all we knew was that more and more lines of the metro were closing. We thought that was strange and decided to take the bus instead. However, when we were on the bus, we found out that there was a “suspicious package” in the place where were were headed: the Nuevos Ministerios metro station. Everyone then quickly got off the bus, as a security thing, the four of us walked back to the apartment. The packaged ended up being a shoebox with shoes in it but it comforted me to know that Madrid is vigilant about security and public transportation.

After getting to know my señora and having some more orientation, our program took a day trip to Toledo. Toledo is a small city 45 minutes outside of Madrid and is very beautiful. They are famous for their Marzipan (especially in the Santo Tome store or the ones made by nuns in the local convents) and metalwork (knives, swords and damascening).

Then, this past weekend, me and a couple of friends went to La Latina. This metro stop has great bars nearby (in which we enjoyed copious servings of tinto de verano at night and the El Rastro street market from 9am-3pm on Sunday.

Vocab Word of the Day (since I basically need to relearn everything I know from the past 15 years): rollo

– Qué buen rollo / buen rollito: You get along well with someone (tener un buen rollo). BUT you typically can only say this about people of the same gender (like you and your girlfriends get along really well, for example). Otherwise, it means you are asking to have “sexual relations” with someone or you are talking about two people who are in a “sexual relationship”.
– Qué mal rollo: a bad time, an uncomfortable and/or problematic situation.
– Corta el rollo: A lighter version of “Cut the crap”.

Talk to you all soon and ¡buenas noches!

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