Hola a todos!
My name is Erica Cunningham and I’m a rising junior at the University of Pittsburgh. It’s hard to believe that it’s been a week since I left my home and everything familiar to begin my journey to Madrid. It’s been a week full of firsts (first day of work, first night with my host family, first tapas…) and I’m very excited to share my experiences!
After three days full of orientation and trying to recover from jet lag, I was very eager to move in with my host family. The taxi ride from the hotel to the family’s apartment was full of nerves – What if they didn’t like me? What if I go to the wrong house? How in the world am I supposed to get in? But, unsurprisingly, I arrived without problems and was welcomed by my host mom with a big hug and two kisses on the cheek. She doesn’t speak any English so it is a great situation to work on my Spanish. I was very nervous about speaking in Spanish all the time, but I surprised myself when we could communicate with ease. There are definitely difficulties, but I am looking forward to how much further I will be able to improve my Spanish.
I also have a host sister who is a junior Psychology student at a local university. She is learning English, so we are able to help each other learn the different languages. I am thoroughly enjoying spending time with my host mom and sister, and feel lucky to be so comfortable. They also have a dog named Rita (you can find her photobombing me in the picture to the right). I have gone with my family to walk her through El Parque Del Retiro (also pictured right) multiple times since arriving. Retiro is a huge, beautiful park with some tourist attractions and small restaurants. It makes the neighborhood nearby very charming, which contributes to my love for my homestay. I’ve also loved every meal I’ve had so far (my host sister is an INCREDIBLE cook). The local restaurants never disappoint either.
However, meals run on a different schedule than the United States. There are two breakfasts, one when you wake up and another around 11:00 am. They consist of something small, such as a croissant and coffee (the coffee is MUY BIEN). Lunch, the biggest meal of the day, is eaten around 2:00. Dinner is lighter and takes place around 9:00 or 10:00 at night. All of this is much later than what we are accustomed to in the United States. This late schedule was a major adjustment upon arrival in Madrid.
The other adjustment I’ve had to make in the last week is, of course, my new job! I work for a company called Opinno as their Talent Management Intern. Opinno is a global innovation consultancy firm, and it is a very young and dynamic company. As I have only completed two days thus far, I am still learning the ropes. I will be talking a lot about Opinno in my future blogs, and look forward to sharing what I learn during my time with this company.
It is safe to say that it has been a crazy week full of big adjustments. It has simultaneously been difficult and lots of fun, and I am very relieved to have so many of this trip’s “firsts” completed. I can’t wait to see what this summer has in store for me!