¡Hola! My name is Steph Spirk and this summer I’ll be spending about three months here in Madrid, Spain. I’m so excited to be here and to share my journey traveling, working, exploring, and just taking in the culture.
My time here so far has been awesome, but before I left the U.S. I was feeling a bit uneasy about leaving with finals just ending and the stress of having to move out of my apartment but also pack for a three-month long trip. To combat my feelings of uneasiness, I had one last Primanti sandwich with my sister and then was ready for the airport.
The flight was about six and a half hours long, but I passed the time quickly by watching “Moana” and being able to sleep thanks to my Pitt Business neck pillow and eye mask! I woke up just in time to see this beautiful view of the Atlantic meeting the coast of Portugal. Within an hour I landed at the Madrid airport.
Once I got my bags, I took the public bus and got off at the stop closest to the hotel. The streets here are very lively and full of people. I probably should’ve taken a shuttle bus that would’ve taken me directly to the hotel because I ended up getting a little lost, but I got out my map and was able to find the hotel even though I definitely looked like a typical tourist.
Soon after checking in, other students from my group arrived at the hotel and we all had our first orientation together later on.
These last few days we have also had more orientations about our internships and home-stays. While doing so we have also been learning a lot about the culture here. In the morning we eat a small breakfast like yogurt with fruit or toast, then around 11 or 12 we eat a “second breakfast” with coffee and something like a croissant. Lunch is eaten around two or three and is the largest meal of the day. Most restaurants have a “menu del día” that includes a first and second course followed by dessert all for one price. Dinner isn’t eaten until about nine in the evening and is a light meal. Everything that I’ve eaten so far has been delicious!
The weather here is nice and warm, but since it’s still technically spring everyone still wears a jacket and pants. People won’t start wearing shorts until it’s actually summer, which is something that I have to adjust to if I don’t want to stand out.
I took this photo on my first day, so I didn’t know that yet. However, this bear and tree is the symbol of Madrid and it’s found in the city center, La Plaza del Sol, so it’s a very touristy area anyways. Our hotel is just down the street from here also, so it hasn’t been too hard learning how to get around.
This is also where we ended our walking tour throughout the city, which was very cool since we were able to learn a lot about the history of Madrid. However, the tour was in Spanish so I definitely missed some bits of information here and there, but the majority I could understand.
The people here speak very fast and the accent is a little bit different than what I’ve heard in the past. It is going to take some time to get used to, but I know that the more I hear the language and try to speak it myself that I can only improve.
Now that I’ve moved in to my home-stay, I am hearing Spanish all the time and am practicing more, too. In my household I have a host mother, who is very friendly and talkative, as well as a sister and brother who I haven’t gotten to know much yet. I also have to mention the dog and three cats (one of which is named “Ron” from “Harry Potter”) because they are adorable and I’m so excited to have pets again! The apartment is very nice and cozy with lots of natural light. It’s located in the neighborhood of Chamberí, which is still very close to the city center and the office for my internship, which I will begin tomorrow (updates to come).
Today is Sunday and it’s a beautiful day, so I will be heading to Retiro Park soon to spend some time with friends and Mother Nature. ¡Hasta luego!