Taking Care of Yourself: Madrid’s Magical Pharmacies

Farmacia española

Greetings! At Tuesday’s IFG session I was informed that the semester is more than halfway done. ¡No puedo creerlo! We began the session with a check in about self-care, something that we really ought to be talking about at this point in the semester. After an amazing but full weekend in Granada, I returned to Madrid with a midterm to take and papers to write. The center has been full of sniffles these days, as most of the students are going through similar stress, and this unfortunately often leads to sickness. Out of solidarity for my peers, I wanted to write about self-care this week, inspired by IFG!

It can certainly be tricky to recreate old routines in a new city, when there is homework to be done, sites to see, friends to make, and more. It can be easy to forget to take care of yourself, as I often find myself prioritizing homework over sleep, or tapas over an afternoon at the gym. However, when I do get out and exercise, I’ve been struck by how much I appreciate the alone time to move and listen to music. Exercise never fails to brighten my mood, and it’s one of the most accessible forms of self-care that exists here, especially with the beautiful streets and parks of Madrid to explore!

On the note of inevitable change-of-season-sickness, I’ve started to make fun of myself for being so cocky about my New York roots. I’ve confidently told multiple Spaniards that the cold here “no es nada” compared to what I’m used to, but this week has shown me that cold is cold, and it sure isn’t shorts weather anymore. A few weeks ago, I woke up with a lump in my throat, dreading the symptoms to come. A friend of mine told me to go to the pharmacy, raving about how helpful they had been for her. I smirked, thinking of the hours I’ve spent on hold with CVS and the painfully long lines I’ve waited on in the U.S. The last thing I wanted to do was go to the pharmacy, especially in a different country, where I knew nothing about the system, let alone the vocabulary needed to express what I needed. But, my friend was in fact right about the pharmacy, and I’ve called it the magical pharmacy ever since.

Upon entering, I was greeted by a grin, then a frown once the woman behind the counter saw me cough. As much as I dreaded the upcoming social interaction, I knew it was something I had to do, so I began explaining to her how I was feeling to my best ability. She nodded warmly, and stopped me mid sentence, confident that she had what I needed. She typed something into the computer, pressed a button, and the next thing I knew I heard a ding as a box of medicine flew out of a shoot on the wall onto the counter. I couldn’t believe it! Just like that, she handed me the extremely affordable medicine and told me to feel better! I was cured in a matter of days, stunned by the service and the overall ease of taking care of myself with the help of the Spanish pharmacy system.

So, while this may have sounded like a promotion for Spanish cold medicine, it most definitely was. To everyone reading, take care of yourselves! The cultural boundaries that may seem to be in the way aren’t too hard to break down. Whether it’s going for a run or visiting one of Madrid’s magical pharmacies, it’ll be worth it.

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