Life here in Madrid is quite different than how I would go about my daily life in Pittsburgh. I always think it’s quite interesting to observe and compare these differences from place to place. The days here are much longer than I’m used to, but that just means you have more time to spend exploring or relaxing! I’m really enjoying my time here in Spain, and this experience is unique because I’m not just a tourist. I live here and work here, so I get to live my life as the Madrileños do.
Each day I wake up for work around 7:30 in the morning and get ready for my day. Just before I leave I eat a light breakfast of cereal and of course I must have homemade café con leche (coffee with milk – it’s delicious!). Since the weather is always nice, sunny, and warm and my work is only about one mile away, I get to enjoy a nice stroll each morning. If I happen to wake up a little bit late, I can always take the metro as well, but I prefer the fresh air. The streets of Madrid are quite busy, so I always have to utilize my people-weaving skills on the sidewalks. Although they are busy, they are also beautiful. I’ve gotten lost on my way to work countless times because I get lost in the beauty of the architecture.
I’m always one of the first people at work, since Spaniards aren’t the most timely people. Once I greet my co-workers, I head to my desk and start working. At 11, it’s time for second breakfast, so my co-workers and I go to a nearby café to drink more coffee, maybe eat toast or a croissant, and just chat. Then at 11:30 it’s back to work until 2 p.m., when we eat lunch. To save money I like to pack my lunch each day, but this works out anyways because all of my co-workers pack their lunch as well. We all sit together in the break room, chatting and eating together over the hour. When six o’clock rolls around, I gather up my things and say, “¡Hasta mañana!” to my co-workers.
What happens next depends upon my evening plans. All of the museums in Madrid are free from 6-8 p.m., so if my friends and I plan on doing that we just meet up right after work and I most likely have to take the metro to wherever we go, since it’s a bit further from my workplace. If we have plans to go out in the evening or attend cultural events, I stroll aimlessly towards mi casa (also have gotten lost many times) and usually take a nap so I have more energy for the night ahead. If we don’t feel like expelling much energy, we sometimes go to Retiro Park (the Central Park of Madrid) to hang out and have a little picnic. Normally in the US I would probably eat dinner when I got home, but here we eat dinner around the time that the sun sets to enjoy the view of the sky out the window. This means I don’t eat dinner until at least 9 o’clock, but sometimes later. At first I ate earlier because I got hungry, but I’ve gotten used to the new schedule and also enjoy eating dinner with my host mom since she loves to chat (about very interesting topics, too!).
Going out and enjoying everything that Madrid has to offer is so much fun, but some days I am simply too tired. On these days, I relax at home for a bit after work, go for a stroll to the park near my house to watch the sunset, research new places to go, watch an episode of “Las Chicas del Cable,” a new show in Spanish on Netflix, and maybe FaceTime a few family members and friends from back home.
Overall, I am absolutely loving life in Spain. My host family is so kind, my co-workers are so upbeat and fun, and Madrid itself has such a wide variety of things to do no matter what mood I’m in. My Spanish is improving rapidly and I feel as though I’m doing a great job of really immersing myself into this culture. I can already tell I’m not going to want to leave come July.