Hola a todos! (See the Speed Read at the bottom if you’re pressed for time!)
15 days in Madrid, and so far I am surviving! More than surviving—I am I have a bank account, I’ve registered my existence with the Spanish government, and I have successfully completed NYU’s Orientation!
Orientation consisted of several days of conversations with professors, discussions of our summer reading, visits to the library, and spending lots of time in cafes with my new compañeros. One neat part of the orientation that I had been looking forward to was a tour of the “old city” of Madrid. Madrid is an ancient city, but unlike other places in Spain, it hasn’t retained a lot of that ancient character—you’ll see lots of newer shiny buildings, big stores, and cars everywhere. But in the middle of all that, there are still quiet streets of homes built in the 1500’s and churches that got turned into mosques and then back into churches, and, what surprised me the most, where you can barely hear cars. Can you imagine that happening in any other urban place?
(Disclaimer: I left my camera charger in the U.S., so my photos are limited L I offer you one million apologies plus one million thank you’s to Mom and Dad for the care package they’re sending me with the charger and peanut butter!)
Orientation ended on Friday with a day trip to Segovia, a city about an hour north of Madrid. The trip there was beautiful, since the city is tucked into the hill region north of Madrid. All the trees are still green but all the grass is yellow since it’s so dry here, and it makes for some pretty colors in the countryside. Segovia is even older than Madrid, founded by the Romans way back in the day, and the huge aqueduct they built still brings water into the city. Its other notable sites are the Cathedral and the Alcazar. The Cathedral is huge and incredible, but I feel like that’s a given for Cathedrals in general. You can sort of see it in the background of this picture:
The Alcazar, like many palaces in Spain, was built by Arabs and then reclaimed by Spanish royalty in the 1100’s during the Reconquista. It has a huge tower with 152 steps winding up in a tight spiral staircase, and while I got super dizzy climbing the stairs, once I reached the top I was glad to have made the climb, because the view of the entire city was amazing. On one side was the countryside and little farms, and on the other was the main part of the city with the hills rising up behind. A storm was coming in from the mountains, but the sun was still shining on the town which made the city look almost like it was glowing. Pretty darn cool.
Classes begin tomorrow, and as much fun as I’ve been having exploring Madrid, finding study spaces and walking around the Retiro Park, I am definitely ready to start using my brain again. Until next time, abrazos! (hugs!)
>Successful orientation week, my classmates are the best!
>Day trip to the beautiful, ancient city of Segovia
>First day of class tomorrow!
1. I will never need to cook my own meat in Spain because all of the tapas (evening snacks) are full of ham more delicious than I could ever hope to make myself
2. It is always worth it to go out to dinner with roommates!
3. Madrid didn’t get the Olympic games—the whole city was packed into the square and they had fireworks ready to go, but they never got to set them off
4. There is a store here called Taste of America. All the Betty Crocker, marshmallow Fluf, you name it. Will only use in case of emergency
5. Discovered a cool place called Mataderos, essentially a huge warehouse compound that’s been turned into an arts space, complete with exhibitions (currently on Brahm Stoker’s Dracula), a design school, café, free wifi, and lots of tables and chairs next to power outlets. I know where I’ll be spending a lot of time…