I have loved every part of being here so far. That being said, there have been some adjustments I’ve had to make that push me out of my comfort zone. I’ve been learning a lot about independence here. I’ve always been a very independent person, but this is another level. I have had to learn how to commute to many different parts of Madrid for my job as well as keep my mental and physical health in check. My hours were pretty crazy for a while, so that made it a little bit difficult. Not to mention, most of my weekends have been spent traveling so far.
My first weekend, I went to Barcelona with my sister. We took a day trip down to Costa Brava, and those were the most beautiful waters I have ever seen in my life. They were crystal blue and lined with coastal caves. I was in awe. We ate so much good food. Whenever my mom called, she would ask “are y’all eating again?” And sure enough, we were. It was a really great time!
The next weekend, I went to Segovia with some of the other students on the program. We saw a lot of historic land marks such as La Catedral, El Alcázar, and the aqueducts. The aqueducts were absolutely amazing. They were larger than life! It’s pretty amazing that all these things were built so long ago, and are still standing today.
This next weekend I am going to Seville. It is true that traveling every weekend makes you tired, but I want to see as much as I can while I’m here, so I don’t regret it. I plan to see a lot more of Spain. I wasn’t able to go to many other countries, but I will be going to Portugal, so I am grateful for that.
Next week my hours will change to be a typical 9-5, which I am also very grateful for. Hopefully I will be less exhausted and have a bit more energy. But the crazy work schedule is not what has been the most difficult part to assimilate to. For me, it’s been the eating schedule that has been hard to get used to. Typically, there is breakfast in the morning, then a second breakfast later, then lunch around 2pm, and dinner around 8 or 9pm. I usually don’t have a second breakfast, since I’m at work. Then I go home for lunch and have another shift at work. Then dinner around 8:30. That is much later than what I’m used to with much longer stretches of time without eating. I always have to remember to pack one, or several, snacks for my commutes. I didn’t realize how much of a toll commuting took either. Sometimes up to 3 or 4 hours of my day are spent commuting. My job is about an hour commute. So I go to work (1 hour), then come back to my apartment for lunch (2 hours), then go to my second shift at a different site which is anywhere from 20mins to 1 hour (2.3-3hours) and then back home (2.6-4hours). So by the end of the day, I am usually very hungry. I’m glad my host mom makes really great meals for me, because I don’t know how else I would make it.
There are also days that I stay at my job to eat lunch. I am usually starving by that time, but those days are my favorite. Tuesdays we eat lentils or pasta salad and Fridays are “Pizza Fridays”. I love eating with all my co-workers. My supervisor always calls us a family, and with the new interns she always says “our family just keeps growing!” We always have very real discussions over lunch too. By real, I don’t necessarily mean serious. Sometimes there are serious topics like economics and politics, but I mean more real as in there isn’t a lot of small talk. We have fun conversations that actually make me think and feel connected as a human being. Many times in America, I feel as though people will ask you questions, but they aren’t really interested in the answer, and it just becomes small talk. Here, if someone’s asks you “Como estas?” Then they actually want to know how you are and what’s going on in your life. And if you ask someone that, then be prepared to get a real answer. It’s such a beautiful work environment and I feel so lucky to have been placed here. I feel like they really value and appreciate not only me, but each other and all their other employees. It’s really important to respect your workers because it makes them excited to come to work and proud to work for their company. My co-worker keeps telling me how she wishes I could stay, and I honestly wish I could too. I definitely plan on returning to Madrid someday, and who knows maybe I’ll come back and work for La Casita.