After 2 days in Madrid, I have finally gotten over my jet lag and I am having a wonderful time. It seems funny to write this blog in English because since I've been here, it has been all Spanish all the time. My brain is definitely switching into Spanish mode now.
After I wrote my last post, we had a meeting with ISA and took a brief tour of the city. Imagine 50 American and Canadian students who are extremely jetlagged, on a bus being talked at in Spanish. Needless to say, there were quite a few heavy eyelids on that bus tour. Then we went to our homes and ate dinner with our families. We had a "salad" consisting of tomatoes, sardines, and pomegranate seeds. It wasn't exactly my cup of tea, but I smiled and cleaned my plate because I was famished. It is going to take me a while to get used to the Spanish meal schedule. My host family does not eat breakfast, lunch is at 3pm, and dinner is at 11pm. Right now it is about 1:30pm and I am so hungry that my computer is beginning to look like a tasty snack. Wednesday night was an early night because we had to be at school at 8am and we were all exhausted from the plane ride.
On Thursday morning, I ventured into the metro system to get to school. It takes me about an hour to get to campus. First, we walk to the blue line, which is about 2 minutes from our apartment. We take that one stop and transfer to the red line. Then we take the red line 6 stops and transfer to the yellow line. Then we take the yellow line three stops. Then we walk about 15 minutes to the campus of Nebrija, our school. After two days, I feel like a pro at navigating the subway. Once we got to school, we immediately took our placement tests to determine which level of Spanish class we would take. The test was rough, but I suppose that it is supposed to be hard so that they can accurately determine your level. At one point during the test, a woman comes and pulls me out of class, brings me into a tiny room and starts asking me all of these questions about my family and my interests and travel plans. I was horribly confused about why she singled me out to interrogate me. Then I continued to take the placement test. Apparently, there was an oral component to the test that I had no idea about. The woman was not simply curious about my interests; in fact, she was judging my speaking ability. Ooops.
After the test, we had some free time and I took my subway route in reverse to get beck downtown where I live. My neighboring is in el centro, where there are many tapas bars and a bustling night life. My neighborhood is called La Latina. However, many of the locals think that they are extremely clever and call my neighborhood La Latina Turner. When I first heard that I laughed for a solid 5 minutes. During my free time I bought a cell phone to make local calls. My original plan was simply to buy a sim card for a phone that I brought from home. However, when you buy a sim card in Spain it comes with a free phone. So I am using that phone as a prepaid phone. It does the job...calls and texts. No camera, no internet, no email. After my cell phone excursion we had another meeting at the ISA office, which is in the main plaza in the neighborhood next to La Latina, Plaza del Sol. The meeting last 4 hours in a hot and crowded room. We had to take another test that will monitor our progress over the next four months. We will take the test again at the end of the program so we can see how much our Spanish improved.
At about 6pm, a group of us found a place to sit down and have a drink and some tapas to recharge before continuing the explore the city. A discovery that I made about Madrid is that there are characters out in the street and the plaza. When I say characters, I do not mean people with vibrant personalities. I am talking about full on Disney characters. Yesterday I met Bart Simpson, Mickey Mouse, and Hello Kitty. I paid a euro to take a picture with Hello Kitty. I have no yet figured out why there are people in full costume when the temperature is around ninety degrees, but it keeps things interesting. A couple of us took a brief detour to check out H&M, but I didn't buy anything there.
Then I went back to my apartment. For dinner we had homemade pizza, which was delicious. Then some friends came to pick me up to go out for a drink. We walked around for a while until we found a hookah bar. Sat on the patio and talked to some of the locals for a few hours. I went to sleep around 3am and woke up at 7am for class at 8:30. I do not know how Spanish people get enough sleep to function.
My first day of class this morning was great. I tested into intermediate Spanish, which I am very happy about. There are about 8 different levels and I am right in the middle. For the next month, I will take two classes: Spanish Grammar and Spanish Culture. I really enjoy my grammar class; however, the professor of my culture class speaks at about a million miles a minutes. I have a hard time keeping up. We have both of these classes every morning and have class from 8:30 until either 1 or 2:30pm. I just got home and now I am going to eat lunch. I cannot wait.
Tomorrow we are taking a day trip to Toledo. I'll write soon to tell you all about it. Hopefully not all of my blog posts will be this long. It has been a very busy 48 hours.