By: Ciera Thomas
My first week in Madrid has been a dream. I first got off the plane, and was immediately prompted to use the Metro. I know a lot of people called Ubers, or had drivers waiting for them, but I had just flown from JFK where I had to take the subway anyway, so I thought to myself “porque no?” I was pleasantly surprised at how simple it was and, even more how clean it was. Immensely cleaner than New York City. But I saw the real beauty of the city as soon as I walked up the steps out of the Metro station at Anton Martin. I immediately saw colorful, intricate buildings lining the streets. They were beautiful. Each street and alleyway looked as if it would lead me to a new adventure.
During orientation, I met other Pitt students, as well as students from several other schools. We immediately bonded as we spent the next few days together. I found it very easy to talk to any one of them! We all began discovering many things about the culture, such as how uncommon it is to split a check…especially if you’re eating with 11 other people. Oops. But we also discovered great things such as el segundo desayuno (second breakfast) or how environmentally conscious everyone is here. There is hardly any litter on the streets, they charge for shopping bags, and a lot of people have multiple bins in their own homes for very specific recyclable items. It’s truly amazing in my opinion.
After a few days, it was time to move into our new homes. I got really lucky and was placed on Gran Via, which is right at the heart of the city. There are so many places to explore around here and I have the next two months to do it! I met my host mom and she is such a sweet lady. She knows a lot of English, so many of our conversations have been half in English and half in Spanish and we help each other get better in our respective languages. I hope to be able to learn more, and my comprehension of the language is getting better. I was listening to a song in Spanish that I used to listen to and not know the words, and I picked up on a lot more words than I have before. It was a great feeling.
I am working at a school called La Casita de Ingles as the media production intern, so I will be mainly working in the audiovisual field. In my opinion, the most important skill in this field is the ability to learn quickly and build on what you know, since there are a lot of technical skills involved. For example, in this field we use a lot of Adobe editing software such as Premiere Pro and Photoshop. It’s usually the industry standard. Once you begin learning one application, there is a lot of overlap between them so you are able to build on what you know. The same goes for camera equipment. Every camera has the same basic functions, so it’s important to know the basics such as ISO and shutter speed. That way wherever you end up working, you have the basic knowledge of how to use the equipment that is provided to you. I did not bring my own camera to Spain, but my company is letting me use ones they have. It is important that I know how to use them or be able to figure out how to use them quickly, because I will already be filming something this week. Many of these skills are transferrable to every part of this industry.
Another very important skill is having “an eye”. Not a literal eyeball, but being able to see a shot before you take it. Or, being able to make a boring event look and seem interesting. Creating something that is aesthetically pleasing. At my job, my supervisor specifically asked me to help them make their social media accounts, specifically instagram, more visually interesting and trying to create one aesthetic. The photo I posted above is an example of my own creativity and my own eye. I am going to try to pick a different color each week, find things around the city in that color, and make a collage out of it as a fun way to document my experience here.
As far as skills relevant to Spain, being bilingual is definitely an added bonus. In my company they only hire native English speakers since they are known for teaching kids English very well. It helps in videos when they can film something in English or Spanish, and be able to translate it in the captions or any other titles on screen. I don’t think there are any more skills that are specifically relevant to this country because I believe any skill you can use here can be used anywhere else. I also think that I would need to work a bit longer to be able to evaluate that because I have only been working here for a day so far.