It’s been two weeks since we left Madrid for our homes. The end of our time in Spain was quick and, for some, unexpected.
The second week of March started as normal but I knew of the global pandemic going on and cases in Spain were rising however, I tried to be hopeful. Monday night, the Spanish government announced that all schools and universities, starting on Wednesday, would be cancelled for the next 15 days. Susan, our director, let us know that program classes would immediately be cancelled for the next 15 days.
On Tuesday, I went to my Autonoma class and spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying my friends’ company. All throughout Tuesday I was hopeful that we would be able to stay, unable to fathom that my experience in Spain could come to such a quick end. But, I was also very much aware of the crisis going on, especially because I have family and friends living in Italy. Unfortunately, Tuesday night, we were informed that we had to leave Spain by Saturday at the latest. I was in shock and incredibly sad.
Wednesday, I had made plans with friends to go to El Retiro and ride the boats and have a picnic. We didn’t realize that the boats were also closed. As we sat on the benches around the pond, we saw other classmates walking with food and drinks, inviting us to join them and other classmates for a picnic near El Palacio de Cristal. We spent the afternoon basking in the sun and enjoying each other’s company. It was one of the best afternoons—so wholesome and memorable. As the afternoon ended, people began to leave and I, along with two other friends, went to Azotea del Círculo, a rooftop bar and restaurant with beautiful views of the city.
My last day, Thursday, I had coffee with my mom’s friend and met up with friends for lunch at one of the best taco places, called Takos al Pastor. At lunch, I was feeling unsettled. It didn’t feel real that I was going home the next day. Needing some time alone (to process, to pack, to do whatever we needed), we decided to go home and meet up later to watch the sunset and have our last chocolate con churros. I spent that time packing and talking to my sister, Olivia, who had also heard from her Geneva program that she needed to go home. I also had my “Last Supper” with my host parents, who cooked a typical Valencian dish, arroz al horno.
We were fortunate to have beautiful weather this last week and sunset did not disappoint! Orange and pink painted the skies, and a man played the violin. El Templo de Debod park was filled with college students, mostly from the US, who were spending their last few days checking things off their “Madrid bucket list,” like we were.
Giovanna Sabini-Leite, student blogger primavera 2020