Fiestas and Siestas

  Spaniards never sleep! At least not during the night. That’s one thing I’ve had to adjust to. They eat dinner at 9:30 or 10:00 and then go out after. And it’s not just the young people; it’s totally normal to see families out and about at midnight, just walking around. Moms and babies too! The Metros and streets are packed with people at nights. It makes you think it’s so much earlier than it is. The bares and discotecas stay open until 5 or later. The Metro closes at 1:30am and reopens at 6:00 so teenagers and college students normally stay until then so they can ride home. !! If you’re wanting an early night, you’re looking at 3. They don’t believe me when I tell  them places in the US close at 2.
  It sounds shocking, I know. The only way they function is that they have breaks during the day to go home and rest. All the businesses and stores shut down from 2-5 to eat lunch and nap. They go back to work at 5 and leave at 8. As Americans, siesta time is really frustrating. You can’t run your errands in the afternoon or go anywhere. I’m not a napper, so I try to run or be productive during the down hours. I start classes on Monday, so I’ll probably be staying at the school during the siesta to work on lessons. Who knows, maybe I’ll even learn to sleep during the day…. maybe.

Advertisements

Driving? No thanks.

  Madrid has great public transportation. Although walking is not a problem here, the Metro is very user-friendly and efficient. It goes everywhere (cough, cough, MARTA) and besides that, it’s nice! The trains are so clean and  most have tvs exhibiting local attractions.

sleek.
Here’s the Metro by our apartment; nice tile design.
As much as I loved my Jeep, I do not miss driving at all. Which works out well because I’m probably the onlyperson that gets lost with a GPS and still doesn’t understand the Athens loop after living there 5 years. 
  The only not straightforward thing about transportation here is buying monthly passes. You have to apply for a monthly pass before you can buy one. Oh, and for some reason, these applications can only be bought at Tobacco stores (not at the bus or Metro station or any other place that would actually make sense). People love to smoke here way too much.  We now have our accepted application card and are ready to get our October pass and ride, ride, ride!

Success!!

Hostals and piso searching

  Hostals are very interesting places. You meet all sorts of people from all over the world. I love finding out people’s stories; what they’re doing here, where they’ve been, where they’re going. I was surprised how many people in Europe travel solo. For this reason, you pick up friends easily. I came with another girl from Georgia, Caitlin, and we met lots of people from our teaching program in our hostal. 
   Unlike most carefree travelers, Caitlin and I were on a mission to find housing. We discovered apartment searching in a foreign country is pretty difficult. Crazy, right? We had done tons of research online for housing and bought local cell phones to call the listings. Calling and asking about rooms for rent in our broken Spanish was, in one word, intimidating. Although everyone was really friendly, it’s so much harder to speak on the phone than in person! At least when you see them, you can use hand motions. Most people would invite you to see their apartment that day. 
  After walking and metroing all over town, we narrowed down the area of where we wanted to live. We picked a nice part of town called Arguelles because it is close to the bus stop where we have to ride to our schools and we just liked the feel of it. There are a lot of students who live in the area because the main University is up the street. Arguelles is northwest of Sol and Gran Via, but is still considered inside the city center. Anyway, when we picked this area, we walked up and down looking for “For Rent” signs in windows. And we proceeded to call pretty much every one of them. Passersbys saw us in the streets calling the signs and told us about places they knew about for rent. They were so helpful! They probably noticed how disheveled and helpless we looked.  We must have seen dozens of places. They are entirely different from what we’re used to back in the States. They are very small and usually only have one bathroom for up to 4 or 5 people. Most do not have air conditioning- which made me very glad we were coming in fall! They do have heat however. Whew. 
   Well we finally found a place! It’s student housing and already we have roommates from the US, Spain, Italy, France, and Germany! I’ll post some pics soon. I am so pumped about our international apartment.


Maps

 Here are some useful maps to locate where I am. Who doesn’t love maps?

   The first is of the country, the second is of Central Madrid. There are lots of parks in Madrid and it is super easy to walk around or take the Metro! Cars are not necessary. Yayyy.

My first blog!

  Hello friends! I am completely terrible with keeping up with blogs, but since I have moved to a foreign country, I’m going to give it a shot. I plan to record pieces of my life in Spain and hopefully it’ll be interesting to those back home and a way for you to keep up with me abroad! Be on the look out for pics and videos to come…  I miss everyone in Georgia and know you’d be crazy if you don’t come see me this year! (I am not kidding.)
    – Kelly Dean