A Balancing Act

My first two weeks in Madrid have been full of amazing adventures that have led me to so many beautiful sights in the city.  After taking some time to settle into my life here in Madrid, into my homestay, internship, and independent free time, I have begun to have more time to explore and have gained a better grasp of how to best manage my time here.

I work every day from 9am-3pm.  For the first few days I took the metro to get to work; however, after three mornings of having to fight my way out before the door closed at my last stop, I decided that walking may be a better form of transportation for me.  It only takes ten extra minutes to walk and I love the extra time that it gives to see and hear more of the Spanish culture along the way.  This streets are full of beautiful architecture and lively Spanish conversations, which make the walk enjoyable and also helps tune my ear to Spanish before arriving to work.

At work I have been given a list of tasks, but no deadlines.  I asked my supervisor if she had a time schedule in mind for my work and she responded with, “whenever you are finished” (but in Spanish, of course).  This lack of a concrete deadline is something very new for me.  My only true deadline is the last day of my internship, July 19, on which everything must be completed.  I know that my work is not something that I can push off until the last week; therefore, I have set personal deadlines that will help me to complete the tasks with extra time to go back over them before handing them in to my supervisor. Since I am at work for six hours, I am able to accomplish a lot in one day.  I have one break that involves grabbing a coffee and/or snack from the nearby supermarket with some of the other interns.  None of the other interns speak English; therefore, these breaks are really great times for me to practice my speaking in a more casual setting than the office.  The other interns all leave around 2-2:30, so I am usually the last one at our set of desks.  I enjoy this time at the end of the day because it allows me to have some quiet time to finish up my work for the day and proofread what I have done.  Time for careful proofreading is especially important here because of the language barrier that exists.  My work is all in Spanish, so it takes me a little extra time to be sure that my reports are written sensible and effectively.

After I leave the office, I go back home to change out of my work clothes and grab some lunch.  After that, I normally pick a new neighborhood, museum, park, or cafe that I want to visit and head there for the rest of my afternoon.  I always bring a book with me because one of my favorite things to do during the summer is sit and read outside.  Luckily, Madrid is full of opportune places to sit and enjoy the fresh air.  I have randomly stumbled upon sprawling rose gardens, an ancient Egyptian temple (the Temple of Debod), el Campo del  Moro (the garden on the grounds of the Royal Palace), and so much more.  This city is so large that it sometimes feels impossible to get to everything, which can make it difficult to take the time to relax and recharge.  In fact, this is the part of time management that I am worst at while traveling: taking a break.  I often feel like there is so much to do and see that I feel guilty for taking time to nap or watch a movie at home, even though I know that it is super important to do these things so that I can do my best at work, on my assignments for this program, and while out in the city. To combat this problem, I have been trying to take advantage of the time that I take for lunch at my homestay before leaving again.  My host mom is usually at work or studying her scripts in her room, leaving me with the house to myself on most afternoons.  I enjoy the quiet during the afternoon, and will prepare lunch and watch a tv show or part of a movie before planning what I want to do that afternoon.  This time is super valuable to me because it helps me to decompress after the day at my internship and then have more energy for the places that I go to in the later afternoons.

In all,  I feel like I have had successful time management skills and haven’t been procrastinating work in my internship or outside of it.  Now, I just hope to continue this effectiveness throughout the rest of the program so I can have the best time possible on all aspects of the program while I’m here.