On my first day of classes my host mom woke up at the same time as I did, and walked me to the program center (Monte Esquinza). It was a thirty-minute walk past the Reina Sofia Museum, Prado Museum, Biblioteca Nacional, and many plazas. It was a beautiful day and I struggled to take in all of the sights and remember all of the names of everything we were seeing. My host mom patiently told me over and over, but I struggled to recall them completely correctly. In my first days, I think I forgot I would be living here for four months and would have plenty of time to absorb Madrid and España! I felt a dire need to remember everything; I had an immediate thirst for all of the information anyone could and would give me.
Most days I walk the same route or take the bus to the program center. I even got into the bad habit of stopping and buying a tea or latte before class. I had to kick said bad habit!
At the program center I am taking the mandatory Grammar class, Global Health and Human Rights, and Sketchbook: Walking the City. I had not planned on taking all of the classes I am taking now, but I am glad that I did. The Grammar class is hard for me, especially since I didn’t learn how to speak Spanish in grammar classes, but the professor is really nice and dynamic. A very smart and well-informed professor teaches Global Health. I really like the topic and I am excited to be able to research a topic of my choice for my final project. Sketchbook is a welcome surprise. I was very nervous to take it because I have never taken a drawing class and done well in it. I survived my art class in high school by collaging! I love visiting different parts of Madrid for our class, and I have actually produced some drawings that have surprised me. Unfortunately my drawing skills seem to be declining lately! Despite my lack of skill, the professor is very kind, helpful, cool, and of course, very talented.
The program center is a great place to hang out, print whatever you need, and check in with staff.
Shout out to Guillermo and Luis who kindly helped me through the bureaucratic process of having a package delivered to me! They spent a lot of time helping me and they are very busy people. Everyone who works at the program center is incredibly kind, helpful, generous, and fun!
1. Don’t forget you’re not on vacation! You are living abroad.
2. Try to acclimate and integrate yourself into a local lifestyle, but don’t freak out if you don’t know everything the first couple of days.
3. Be open-minded when picking out your classes. Trust me, when you get to Madrid it will all change.
4. Take classes you are afraid to take. What’s the worst that can happen?