Hello everyone! Looks like this will be the blog post for the month of December, so I hope you’re all enjoying the holiday season and getting a chance to play in the snow!
(Speed read at the bottom!)
It’s been a busy month here both school-wise and with a ton of other activities. All you need to know about school is that I’ve never had that many papers to write within such a short time (5 within a week of each other), and that even though it was tough I survived!
An outline of some sort might be the best way to tackle the last month (can you tell I’m a student??)
Thursday itself wasn’t that spectacular since we all had class to deal with, but Friday morning all of the Literature program folks came over to our apartment and we had a special Thanksgiving brunch: pancakes, scrambled eggs, apple pie, and arepas, which are kind of like English muffins, and which were made by hand by César, the lone boy in our program. The next day, my roommate and I went to a Thanksgiving party that a Notre Dame alum hosted at her house, and that’s where we got some good traditional Thanksgiving food—it’s not quite the same as being at home, but it was pretty close!
Random cultural things
NYU hosted a live concert of Sephardic music. The Sephardis were/are Spanish Jews who lived in the peninsula until they were expelled in 1492. But, if you go to Turkey and North Africa, you can find communities descended from the exiled Sephardis who still sing songs in Spanish that were handed down throughout the centuries, which is pretty darn cool. The music was really neat, and each song the musicians changed music, sometimes singing, playing guitars (various kinds, one like a banjo, one like a mandolin, one more traditional), drums, and castanets.
The Escorial: this is a huge palace/mausoleum/cathedral that’s a little ways to the north of Madrid. It was built in the 16th century for King Felipe II. It’s a huge, beautiful place, and they’ve preserved a lot of the palace as it was back in the day, including all of its religious art, architectural drawings and models, and lots of furniture. But it’s also super creepy because underneath the palace are the tombs of dozens of Spanish royalty. Kind of like keeping your ancestors in the basement. But I suppose it’s his palace and he can do what he wants. The Cathedral that’s a part of the palace is beautiful; it has a huge, lofty dome and a very beautiful organ.
I finally managed to watch a Notre Dame game in Spain! (with the rain on the plain) The sports bar my roommate and I discovered back in September finally came in handy, and were kind enough to divert one of the TV’s from soccer to the Notre Dame-Stanford game. It was a lot of fun to see the team colors, and even a few brief glimpses of the band! All we needed were some proper hot dogs to complete the gameday atmosphere, but I guess you can’t have everything 🙂
So then finals week happened and all fun stopped. Not that school isn’t fun, but it’s a special mixture of very interesting thoughts & ideas, lots of work, and little sleep. Luckily finals don’t last forever!
On the last day of classes NYU hosted a cocktail party for the grad students and our professors, which was a ton of fun, in part because that meant I didn’t have to cook dinner for myself, and also because we got to hang out with our profs outside of class. We ended up talking about school a lot, but it was still nice to be more relaxed with them. After the cocktail party we went out dancing, and some of our professors even came with us! (the next level of hanging out with profs!) That was a ton of fun, the music was great, and our profs showed off some pretty excellent dance moves 🙂
This past week has been full of epic success and some failure.
Failure: trying to ice skate in Madrid. I researched rinks in Madrid and found one right in front of the Royal Palace, which I thought would be perfect and beautiful. However, when we arrived to skate, we discovered that the rink was absolutely tiny (smaller than half a hockey arena), and that there were puddles all over the ice. Silly me—being from Minnesota, I just assumed that since it was winter, it would be cold enough for the ice to freeze. Apparently this is Spanish winter. (though the temperature is supposed to drop in January, so there might be hope)
Success: Turning in all of my papers! To celebrate, my roommate and I went to and exhibit on surrealism (it was super cool, they put artwork painted in the 15th and 16th century next to artwork made in the 20th century, and it’s crazy to see how similar they were. And just how crazy medieval artists were, their stuff was full of eyeballs and demons and all sorts of weird things. (But intriguing all the same!) After that, we treated ourselves to some well-earned dessert—a Nutella cheesecake in a cute café where we’ve gone to study a few times. That may or may not have been one of my favorite desserts ever. Perhaps because it tasted like victory.
Now I’m out of class til January 30th. How will I fill my time, you might be wondering? Half of it will be spent on some lovely Christmas travels, and the rest of will be full of reading the stack of books that my thesis advisor gave me to work on for break. I think I’m equally excited for both of these things, which is probably good!
My travel itinerary is Prague for Christmas with my cousin Jon, his wife Nat and their cat Kenzo; then between Christmas and New Year’s, I head to Brussels to meet up with my friend Ellie and her friend who’s studying in Edinburgh; then New Year’s Eve and beyond we go to Edinburgh, and I’m back in Madrid January 5, just in time for the Three Kings celebration (the Three Kings are the ones who bring Christmas presents in Spain, not Santa!)
So with that I’ll bring this post to a close! Be well over the holidays (Festivus, Christmas, whichever!), spend some time with the family, and make some good New Year’s resolutions!
Thanksgiving with Notre Dame alumni
Concerts and trips to cultural sites around Madrid
First semester successfully completed
Soon-to-begin Christmas travels
- I have a new favorite café called Lolina. I spent half a day studying there without getting yelled at, plus I got to drink wonderful tea and pet a dog! I’ve been missing a good cuddle with a puppy
- Gastrocroquetería: croquets=fried cheese and ham, typically. For my friend’s birthday we went to a place that serves fancy versions of these, which meant croquets full of squid in its ink, shrimp, and cheesecake
- The lights are up in the city center and they’re beautiful! It’s also a mob scene there at pretty much any time of day—everyone’s there to admire the lights and do their Christmas shopping
- I may be starting to like coffee…this could potentially be dangerous 😉
- ¡Feliz Navidad a todos!