I decided to borrow an idea from this blog, and update you all with awkward and awesome moments from Madrid and Toledo.
1. Unexpected Surprises. We arrived in Madrid on January 5th, the Spanish “Christmas Eve”. Our program directors informed us that on the morning on January 6th all the children would receive gifts from Los Tres Reyes Magos (Three Wise Kings). The day we arrived they shut down all the streets at night and held a huge parade, throwing candy at all of the people in the streets (how very Mardi Gras of the Spaniards). The streets were crowded with people of all different ages, and decorated for Christmas. This was definitely an awesome cultural experience for our first night in Spain.
2. Elderly women in Madrid. At the parade, we saw an old lady in a very long fur coat (fur coats are EVERYWHERE in Spain) and a cane booking it down the street. She was probably around 78-80 years old, but was walking faster than I have ever walked in my life.
3. Museo del Prado. I am not a huge fan of museums, but our tour guide was this old lady who was adorable and made it interesting. She started giving us the tour in English, but we asked her to speak in Spanish and she was so excited. I got to see a bunch of paintings that I studied in Spanish class this year and in high school. She moved quickly through the museum, so she was able to hold my extremely short attention span.
4. Finding the reason I’m single. On our walking tour of Madrid, our tour guide stopped us at “Calle Pasa” and told us a legend that says that those who do not walk down the pass (calle pasa) won’t get married. The story states that back in the day, people who wanted to get married had to get it approved by priests before doing so. They had to go to Calle Pasa, where the office was located, to get their marriage approved. Therefore, those who don’t go to Calle Pasa won’t be married. Don’t worry, I walked down the street so you can expect save the dates any time now.
5. My two girl friends, Ali and Alex. Ali is from Dallas and Alex is from San Antonio. They are pretty awesome, and I’ll have a blog post spotlighting them later.
6. Toledo. Awesome. The city is beautiful and I had the best meal of my life at a restaurant in Toledo. Deer venison and a baked apple. If it was socially acceptable to lick a plate, I would have.
7. The program directors of ISA. Rodrigo is super nice, and always answers our questions con paciencia. “Rodrigo, tenemos una pregunta!”: theme of the
first second third every day. Theresa is a super energetic director and loves her job. Even though she has been to these places millions of times, she has so much enthusiasm, which makes us excited.
8. Rodrigo and Theresa-isms.
-“Ehspanish” and “Ehspain”. This pretty much applies to most Spanish people speaking English, and it’s adorable.
-Theresa explaining that house mothers will follow you around the house turning off lights (not any different than my own mother), and even though they may seem like they are yelling at you for keeping lights on, they aren’t. Spanish people just tend to project more. “They are not monsters, they are just Ehspanish!”
– Explaining the night-life in Salamanca: “Control, Control, Control. Here in Ehspain we walk home from the bars using our legs. We don’t crawl.” I think that was a stab at American culture.
-“Extra Spoon”: Oh you’re full? Here’s another spoonful of food and even though you might explode if you eat it.
9. Siestas. I’ve participated in this Spanish tradition every single day. Needless to say, I don’t hate it.
1. Customer Service. The waiters and waitresses in Madrid were less than pleasant. They were rude and it’s obvious that they don’t work for tips. Our plates of food were practically thrown on the table before us, and our questions unanswered. Definitely a hard adjustment for a Southern girl.
2. Spanish men hissing. I mean, what is that? It’s their form of catcalling, but are you a snake? Super awkward.
3. Operating the elevator in Toldeo. We pressed “4” to get to the fourth floor but somehow ended up on the 6th, and when the elevator door opened, all we saw was a wall. Cue panicking, we thought we were trapped for life.
4. The WiFi situation. Spaniards obviously have a different view of fast WiFi. Or functioning WiFi, in general. It’s been pretty non-existent everywhere we have been.
5. PDA. What is the deal? It’s everywhere! Streets, Airplanes, Restaurants, Parks. You get it.
6. Winter. I’ve been wearing clothes that, until now, have served as hanging reminders of seasons that do not exist in Texas or Louisiana. Winter. It’s cold here! Today it was 0-8 degrees Celsius.
I’m finally in Salamanca and classes start tomorrow, so I’ll have a new blog post soon. Sorry this took so long!