Welcome to my blog! My name is Kelsey Dion, and I’m super excited to share my time in Madrid with you. A little bit about me: I’m a junior at Tufts hailing from Georgetown, MA, and I study International Relations and Spanish. I’m a diehard Boston sports fan, a softball player, avid podcast-listener, book nerd, and puppy-fanatic. If you’re looking to journey along as I experience a series of clumsy cultural mishaps, develop an obsession with Spanish coffee, attempt to get a hold of the political scene, and try to become a local in Madrid, you’ve come to the right place! And if you’re someone other than my parents or family reading this blog, I applaud you, welcome! (But also, Hi Mom and Dad!)
I figured, as this is my first post, I would share with you one of my favorite things about Madrid so far. And before I say anything, I’ll preface it by saying this: the jamón here is great, the discotecas are fun, Parque Retiro is gorgeous, and don’t even get me STARTED on how catchy reggaeton music is… but by far one of the most pleasant surprises about my time in Spain has been my affection for Sunday mornings in Madrid. For a little bit of backstory, I’m the definition of morning person. At home in Boston, it is not at all uncommon for me to wake up super early and camp out with a cup of coffee to do work or study, because the fact of the matter is I am the most productive human in the world from 6am-9am. Most of my friends think that I’m secretly an 85 year old man in spirit, and they probably aren’t wrong. That said, when Susan and the mentors were describing the pace of life in Spain as a stay-out-late, wake-up-late culture, I was immediately struck by how different it would be for me. I was worried that my lifestyle would be wildly mismatched with that of Spain and I would have a hard time adjusting.
But then Sunday morning rolled around and I knew I was in the right place. Sundays in Spain are a time dedicated to family, food, and relaxation. My lovely host family likes to spend the day hanging around the house together and catching up on life, laundry, and TV while I sit on the couch with a pen behind my ear trying to finish grammar homework. Going out for a run at 9am, it seems like I am the only person in the entire city (likely because people are just getting home from the previous evening’s activities only a few hours earlier). As the morning turns to noontime, I’ll pass a dad walking next to a toddler on a bicycle, an adorable old couple out for a stroll, and a young woman walking her tiny fluffball of a dog. In an already laidback city, Sundays are like hitting pause: everything is slower, nobody seems to have anywhere to rush to or from, and the only places that seem to be busy are parks and cafés where families are out for a stroll or a merienda (snack) together. It also helps that the only weather I have experienced for five straight weeks is 85° and sunny, so every Sunday seems to be the epitome of perfect weather. Another really cool thing about Sundays that I should mention is “El Rastro.” If a 400 year old massive flea market suits your fancy, Madrid has the thing for you! El Rastro is a Sunday morning tradition in the barrio La Latina, where hundreds of people flock every week to stroll through street vendors selling nearly everything you could possibly imagine: shoes, clothes, food, artwork, and (if you’re bold) some incredibly colorful fanny packs. Yet another reason to love Sundays.
The pace of life here has been one of the things I’ve come to appreciate the most. In Madrid, it’s not at all uncommon to sit down and talk to someone over a cup of coffee for hours, or spend the entire afternoon eating a meal and chatting with friends. In my time in college, especially as an athlete, I have become accustomed to the idea of zero free time and a perpetually hectic schedule. In Spain, however, we are constantly reminded to take a breath and enjoy the moment, which is something I have immensely appreciated.
Thanks for reading! Hasta pronto!
(PS: I’ve been learning some awesome new words/phrases so I’m going to share a new one each week!
Here you go: “Estoy flipando” = I’m flipping/freaking out)