KATIE WOLFE- My days in Madrid are long and my nights are even longer. Every day during the school week I wake up between 8:30 and 9 am. Normally I chug a cup of coffee and run out the door to get to my first class on time. The rest of my school day I spend commuting to and from the Autónoma and then back to the program center for my grammar class on Tuesdays and Thursdays. After all that its around 7 pm. In the States that’s right about when I would be having dinner and winding down from my day, maybe even do a bit of homework and then I would be off to bed. Here in Madrid my night has only just begun. Many people, myself included use the time after work or school to do their “extracurricular” activities. Personally I head off to my ballet class and, depending on the day, don’t arrive back home until 9:30 or 10:30. Once I arrive I eat dinner with Marta (my host Mom) and finally return to my room at around 11:30. Ok great! Bed time… just kidding . I often find myself up until 12:30 or 1 am finishing up homework and preparing things for the next day. The craziest thing about my schedule is that it’s really not that uncommon. Sometimes my host mom doesn’t even arrive home until 10:30 on the days she goes to the pool for her swimming class. On the walk home from ballet the streets are still buzzing with people as if its 3 o’clock in the afternoon! Living in Madrid has really shown me how much can be accomplished in a day. The most interesting part for me is that even thought I don’t get home until much later than I would back in New York, I never feel rushed or overwhelmed during the day, and to be honest I’m not exactly sure why. The general way of life here just feels more laid back. People take their time to each lunch and relax for a bit before heading back to work and many of my classes end up starting 5-10 minutes late, but here its no big deal.
Before adjusting to the schedule I would be extremely tired at the end of the day and I kept wondering when I was supposed to take the famous “siesta” (I’m beginning to think it was a myth all along), but now things are running fairly smoothly. My weekends, however, are a whole other story.
Everyone knows New York City as “the city that never sleeps” but I’d say Madrid actually deserves that title. Never once have I see the streets of New York City as crowded as Madrid’s are at 5 in the morning on a Saturday and its not because people are waking up early. The nightlife here gets started around 10 pm. People generally go out for dinner, maybe some tapas and cerveza, and then, if they so please, they’ll meander off to the discotecas. These nightclubs are open until 6 am and, as far as I’ve seen, there’s still a pretty large crowd when they start shutting down. It’s quite common to see us young people roaming the streets at 5 am looking for a chocolatería to munch on some churros before the metro opens and we make our journey back home. Once we all arrive back safe and sound we have about two and a half hours before the sun starts to rise and the shops open. After that the streets are flooded again with all the people that didn’t go out and Madrid just keeps on truckin’.