The first thing I could not get over when I moved here is the weather. It’s nice. I have not been here long enough yet to really experience the seasons, but I have been told that it does get hot and cold, just like most other places, but I wake up nearly every morning to see the sun shining. It is almost freaky. And because the weather is so nice, Madrid has gone all out with its parks. I have never been to any public place that is as beautiful as El Retiro. Rain here is so rare that it is all anyone talks about for awhile.
Another thing I am really starting to enjoy is that there’s always something to do. Maybe people who live in bigger U.S. cities are used to having all this fashion and culture within walking distance, but I am not. I go window shopping after class and to museums on weekends. At night my coworkers and I will go out dancing or try out a new cocktail lounge. Just because we can. There is no shortage of things to do. I think this is what I will miss most when I go home. And the great thing about living here is that it also can have a small-town feel, which was great for me at the beginning when everything felt really overwhelming. If you live in a good neighborhood (Barrio) here, then you are set. There’s usually a market within walking distance, and your neighbors will be very friendly and help look out for each other. When you don’t know anybody all that well yet, and there’s a bit of a language barrier, this can be a total lifesaver.
Madrid feels like the center of the world sometimes. It is right in the middle of Spain, so it is this huge hub for travelers. It certainly makes visiting other places super easy as well. And because there are so many travelers coming in and out, some have stayed—and when they do, they bring their cuisine with them, making my home away from home full of exotic treats. I have had everything from Mediterranean goodies to authentic Ukrainian dishes, and even some of the best American-style burgers I have ever had!
I’ve only experienced a few drawbacks—yes, I was the victim of a pickpocket once or twice, and it is such a touristy area that the perpetrators (and my stuff) will most likely never be seen again. But it just required me to think a little differently. It happened twice early on in my stay (once my wallet out of a backpack and once my phone off a café table while I was reading the paper) and since then I’ve gotten a lot smarter. Now I carry a front-clasp purse and I wear it across my body, and I never leave my phone out. Anywhere. There was also an adjustment period with the roommate but that’s all straightened out now, too.
A girl could really get used to this…