It feels amazing to be back in Madrid for a second semester! The weather is much warmer than I expected it to be for the end of January/beginning of February, but coming from the oh-so-freezing New York City, I am not complaining whatsoever. I landed on Tuesday morning, as opposed to my prior expected arrival of Saturday morning, and although I missed my Monday classes, my Tuesday was busier than one might expect. After what I would consider a fairly quick flight (about seven hours as opposed to the usual eight or nine), I returned to my host home after six long weeks, dropped off my bags, and rushed off to my university classes.
My arrival was pushed back a few days since I got sick the day before my initial travel date, but I felt so taken care of when I got back to my host home. My host mom and her daughter are two of the nicest people I have encountered in Spain, and although I am not the best at showing my enthusiasm, I am always glad to call their home mine as well. My host mom’s name is Francisca, and her daughter’s name is Ivette. They are Dominican like me, and despite the fact that they have lived in Spain for quite some time, there are a few qualities about a Dominican that might never change no matter where we end up in the world.
My host mom hosted my sister seven years ago when my sister did the Tufts-Skidmore in Spain Program through Skidmore. Needless to say, I may have somewhat followed in her footsteps. When my sister was here, she would Skype my mother and me every now and then, and we would talk to Francisca and Ivette. They apparently even know my grandmother somehow, so that should go to show you just how small of an island the Dominican Republic is. Nonetheless, when I applied to Tufts-Skidmore in Spain a year ago, I was reminded of my sister’s host family and was excited to call them my own. It has been nothing short of an exciting experience. Despite what I assumed, I do not get compared to my sister or to any other student they have hosted before. Aside from that, I eat so much here.
Food is extremely important to me, so I felt like it is necessary to discuss eventually. I never thought of myself as a picky eater until I arrived at Madrid. The gastronomy is great, but I am coming from New York City. I was used to eating chopped cheeses and Dominican food nearly everyday of my life. Thus, it goes without saying that I was a bit afraid to come here and “try new things,” as it is so often encouraged. Having a Dominican host family made me feel safe, and the food here reminds me of home—even if Madrid may lack the many Goya products I am very used to. I have been here long enough for my host mom to know all my favorite meals, and getting to know her has been one of the most meaningful parts of my journey. For some students, host families really do begin to feel like a family, and though it is not everything, it might be the best connection one can make during their study abroad experience here in Madrid.
Nicole Richards (Nico), student blogger primavera 2020