Lunes (5/14): My first day of work!! I am assigned to an international Marketing research and consulting firm named SCOPEN. I had an interview at 11:00 am. On the dot. The Spaniards are known for their laid-back culture, and that is very true in personal lives, but for work, people arrive for meetings at the exact time, not early. If you were to arrive early, at say, 10:45 am, they would wonder what you were doing there because you were supposed to be there at 11:00 am, not earlier. Their schedule is booked until 11:00. So, as soon as the clock chimed 11:00 am I rang the doorbell and asked for my supervisor. I was nervous for the interview and the night before I had practiced interview questions and responses in Spanish to make sure I would have something to speak about. But, it turns out that the interview was practically non-existent. It was more so a discussion about how things had been going for me in Spain and what I liked about marketing, it was not scary or nerve-wracking at all. The fact that this wasn’t an interview was a great relief for me. I found out that I would be working in the communications department with a different supervisor and I would be helping her with her tasks. She began by giving me an introduction to all the employees of the company, to the office, and to the organization itself. For lunch, I was told most people go out and eat at restaurants, so I didn’t bring anything. Then, when lunch came around, I was alone because everyone brings their lunch. What a sad realization! After lunch, we got all the administrative items sorted out and I started working. I edited a PowerPoint that had been translated into English and I felt extremely helpful. My workday ends at 6:00 pm so I left and went home after a very mentally exhausting day and just relaxed.
Martes (5/15): Luckily for me, the day after my first day of work was a holiday! Today was the day of recognition for the Patron Saint of Madrid, San Isidro. I went with my cousin to the Manzanares Real and we hiked around 8 miles of the “Camino de Santiago” which is a famous religious pilgrimage, and the views were breathtakingly beautiful. After the hike, we went into the little town next to the beginning of the trail and sat for drinks and snacks. I am still not used to the pace at which Spaniards do everything. They really truly enjoy what they are doing and take time to sit and relax to enjoy the moment which is the opposite of the busy, go-go-go lifestyle I am used to. I find myself antsy when we sit for long periods of time to just chat. It is something I am not accustomed to and I am still not completely comfortable with. We talked for a while about the walk and just our lives in general, there were about ten of us and the differences in age and backgrounds led to great conversations. I need to take a moment to really give thanks for my second cousin Greg here. Being alone so much of the time has really led me to truly see the value in friendships and making sure to maintain them. He has provided me with some friends in this new city, and that is truly what family is for to lend a hand and help each other! I’m learning a lot of lessons myself, so I wanted to share one with you all! I was so tired and sunburned from the hike that I got home and was ready for bed! After my shower, I truly discovered how harsh the Spanish sun is. My host mom could not believe how fried my skin was and gave me aloe that she had, and then I started to feel how strong the burn was…yikes! With heavily applied aloe on my back, I went to bed really early.
Miercoles (5/16): Back to work it was! The hike took so long, and I was so exhausted by the time I got back, I had not gone to the store to buy a lunch, so again, I arrived at work, with no food in hand and I had to go out for lunch again. I learned about something called clipping at work, which is essentially skimming the press online in search of mentions about SCOPEN. The word gets its roots from when everything was printed, and you could physically clip out the stories about your company, or at least that is what I assume. I have never learned about the communications side of a business because my interests primarily lie in the field of marketing, but I am learning quite a lot about a whole new area. My schedule for work is 9:00 am to 6:00 pm. Everyone I have talked to keeps stressing the point that the best way to get to know Madrid and to see Madrid is by walking. So, after eating, I walked around the city streets in the neighborhood where I work and enjoyed people watching and looking into the shops. An hour is a long lunch compared to what I am used to so I feel like I have a lot of time to explore the city after I eat. At work that morning the communications department got a new member (third member including me) and I was so happy because I finally was no longer the new person, even if just by one day! (: I enjoyed the day for the most part, except for the massive blisters I got from wearing brand new work shoes to work. My commute is via walking and a train, so my feet were not very happy with me. I did learn though, that in Madrid, the Band-Aids have a coating of nickel on the padded portion of a Band-Aid, and it looks a little scary and metallic although still soft. After work, I went shopping at the Carrefour and I had my first true grocery store shopping experience. It was a bit hectic and I had to pace the aisles to find everything and see my options. I was told the price wouldn’t be much cheaper to bring vs. buy my lunch, but BOY WAS THAT WRONG! I was spending anywhere from 9-12 Euros on lunches, and at the store, I could get a lunch and snacks for the day for a total of five Euros a day. I refuse to buy bags at the store because it costs extra so I had to walk 6 blocks juggling my groceries in hand, and I’m sure I got some amused looks at the sight of me. However, I do have to commend Spain for their environmental efforts. You would be amazed at how many more people bring bags, so they don’t have to buy them. Another lesson learned, but now I know for next time! Hm, this “now I know for next time” phrase seems to be never-ending for me. (:
Jueves (5/17): I do not have much to say that is different from Wednesday, except I brought my lunch and was able to eat in the break room. I was so glad I could eat with everyone together in the room. Even though it was my first day doing it, they were all so incredibly nice and friendly and welcoming about it. People keep telling me my Spanish is very good, but in the words of my Nana, “Oh, they lie so well!” (: I talked to my cousin about it and he said they truly do mean it because most Americans who come cannot speak much at all and often times won’t even attempt to, so they are sincere when they say it. That made me feel a lot better and everyone at SCOPEN has been so welcoming. A smile means the same thing no matter what language you speak, and I never knew how much body language can say when you literally cannot find words. I often times take a while to formulate my thoughts and words, but they always smile and say “no pasa nada” meaning don’t worry about it. Their patience has been appreciated and has made me feel so welcomed, and more capable than I feel.
Viernes (5/18): Fridays, everybody works until 3:00 pm. Usually, we all take lunch from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm and then return to work, but on Fridays, you work until 3:00 pm and then leave and go home for lunch. It is such a great start to the weekend. I continued clipping all day at work and I got to sit in on a meeting where they were showing the new full-time communications employee an example of their research / consulting presentation for a client. The firm really does do a lot of interesting work, and they get amazing results to provide to their customers. After work, I went home and took a much-needed nap after a full week. That night, my cousin invited me to a concert with him and his friend from work. The band was one he used to play in and I got to meet the members after which was really cool too. They played a lot of Caribbean inspired music, with some Spanish flare, and I really enjoyed it even though I could hardly understand any lyrics. Music really is a universal language.
Sabado (5/19): So my nap on Friday had kept me up until 4:30 am Friday night so I slept until 11:00 am when I had my alarm set to watch the royal wedding. I got up got ready for my day and watched the wedding on BBC live stream. What an event!! My roommate Jenny actually was able to attend as she is studying abroad in London and she was sending me photos of Megan from the parade. After watching the wedding and a bit of the parade, I accidentally slept again, and I guess my body really needed the sleep. I didn’t leave the apartment at all that day, it was a “down day” as my Dad calls it. That night, I met up with a friend Miles who I had met at my orientation and he introduced me to his friends from his University at home who are studying abroad with him. It was a relief to be able to be able to freely speak English for a bit with them and I appreciated their company.
Domingo (5/20): After a day inside, I decided I needed to spend the day walking. I saw a lot. I walked the Castellana, went into a lot of stores, walked to Retiro park, Plaza Sol, Plaza Mayor, Gran via, many churches, and finally to the Royal Palace. I did take a pit stop at McDonald’s to try their famous “café con helado” that is only served in Spain and let me tell you, it is ADDICTING. It tastes better than a dessert. I walked in right before supper and then ate and returned to my bed for a good night’s sleep before another week of work!