I titled my blog this week with the phrase “work hard and play hard” for many reasons, but as you can imagine is mainly because I have been working full time all week and still make time to hang out with my friends since that’s the culture here in Madrid. Day time is for work, and night time and weekends are for socializing. This is something that every person from Madrid does so I am adapting myself to do the same. It has been a big challenge but not an impossible one. I admit that I lack in the aspect of going out during the weekdays, not because I must be at work early but simply I am not a person that goes out every Friday night. Today I learned something very important from my host mom. After dinner, she told me that I should go out during the weekdays because that is the best way to get to know my coworkers and spend a good time with them. Also, she mentioned that Madrid is a place that someone enjoys by going out and that I was missing a big part of my experience here in Spain. I know that she is right and I want to interact even more with this unique culture for the rest my trip.
I have a different work schedule from the majority of my classmates. I think is because most of businesses in Madrid open at 10 am and close at 8 pm, and I am working in a travel agency. Be Madrid, which is the place I am doing my internship, is a community of exchange and international students that organizes trips in Spain, Portugal and Morocco, social events during the weekends and night, and cultural activities. I am working in the Finance and Accounting department and the person who is teaching me what are my duties and responsibilities is a guy from the Netherlands. He’s name is Rob and does not speak Spanish so we communicate in English which is great for me because I am learning professional vocabulary related to my major in the language that I will be using back home. Because we need to keep track of daily transactions until the closing hours, I must stay until 8 pm every day, including Fridays. Most of my friends are done earlier on Fridays while I am at the office. This is a glimpse of my future work life!
Since I work until late, I have my lunch break at around 4:00 pm. I haven’t done any groceries shopping yet because I am not a fan of cooking, but I have to start doing it in order to save money for my weekends. The office is in the center of Madrid so going to a restaurant is very expensive for my pocket. So, I looked for the cheapest one and maybe you won’t believe me, but I have been going there every day for two weeks. I am a frequent costumer at the restaurant and cafeteria “Museo del Jamón”. I order the same menu, because I like it a lot, so the waitress just give me the food without asking me what I want, which is funny and makes me feel special. Here is a picture of my favorite lunch dish!
Let me give you an overview of the work culture here in Madrid. As you can imagine, it is very different from the US. I don’t have to wear professional business clothes because no one does it in the office. Even if you come dress with a suit, people don’t care that much. They just want you to feel comfortable at work. The greatest aspect about my internship is that my coworkers are from different nationalities. I want to work later in an international setting so I am glad that I am having the opportunity to practice it this summer. My coworkers are from Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Italy, Mexico, and my supervisor is from Bolivia. Only the CEO is Spanish. In the office, there’s always a mix of languages: Spanish, English, Dutch, French, and Italian. Besides my accounting duties, I have to review the grammar of documents and events in Spanish and English, and they are very happy that I know both languages pretty well. Back home, I work in an office setting but there is no one closest to my age. In here, almost everyone has my same age so I have a lot of fun making jokes with my coworkers and working on teams. Also, they communicate in a direct way, loudly and keeping a close distance while they talk. I can’t forget to mention the two-kiss greeting because some of them always say hi to me like that, and I sometimes forget to do it. Basically, I just give one kiss and then after some seconds the other one.
Now it’s time for the play part! Last Saturday, I went to a trip organized by Be Madrid with my friend Isabella. It was awesome to explore new places with a friend from Pitt. We went first to Ávila. We went to see the wall of Ávila and the town that is inside of it. It was my first seeing such a beautiful wall. The color is so bright and white, and the structure so symmetrical in everywhere. The day was cloudy, rainy and cold and I forgot to wear appropriate clothes for the weather, so eventually I got sick later that day. After the guided tour, we ate three delicious tapas in “Plaza Mayor” of Ávila with a glass of “tinto de verano” which is cold sweet red wine. The same day, we went to another city called Salamanca. In here, we visited the oldest university of Spain called “Universidad de Salamanca.” The place is very historical because it is surrounded by cathedrals and houses built many years ago. Also, there is an interesting legend in this university. It says that if you can spot a small frog at the facade of their church, it will give you good luck for your final exams and college career. I saw the tiny frog so luck is on my side for next semester!
Later that night I went home right after the trip because I wasn’t feeling well, but next day I did go out at night with my classmates from Pitt and we had a fun time. This past weekend was the celebration of Madrid’s religious patron “San Isidro,” so Monday was a holiday in Madrid; no classes and no work. Since this is an event that you can only see in Madrid, I went to see some of the main events that took place during the holiday. I went to “Parque San Isidro” and I felt that all Madrid was in the park. It was very crowed, there was tons of tables selling food, crafts, clothes, and more food. I was able to see a lot of families in this place, and some performances. But it was very hard to walk and find a place to sit, so I left early. Then, I went to “Museo de San Isidro” to learn about the life of San Isidro and the reason why he became the saint patron of this city. After that, I went to “Plaza Mayor” and I saw San Isidro’s procession and locals clapped for a long time when his figure appeared on the streets. I saw typical spanish costumes, horses and even more people.
Tomorrow, I am going to visit the great city of Barcelona thanks to my friend Isabella. She convinced me to come with her by taking a long ride bus during the night. Probably we will be so tired after an eight-hour ride, but we will save our energies to explore this beautiful city all weekend.
I knocked on the adventure door of Europe, and now I am waiting to see what’s behind it!!!