Madrid is home to the central capital of Spain, known for its elegant boulevards, manicured parks, and rich European art. Going on week three of my study abroad here, I wake up each morning still as excited to be here as I was the day I arrived. The beautiful architecture and bright blue sky make life feel like a movie scene every day. 

When I first arrived in Madrid I very quickly had to turn my English off and Spanish on. From the moment I stepped foot outside of the airport, I was surrounded by the Spanish language and culture. I was overwhelmed at first, challenged to put all of my years of Spanish to the test just to get from the airport to my residence. Shortly after arriving, I went on a walking tour of the city, learning about the palace, tapas and so much more. A few interesting things I learned:

  1. The palace burnt down on Christmas Eve in 1743 and was rebuilt using limestone and granite in order to avoid another burning to the ground. Although, this sparked an issue with temperatures in the castle, making it very cold in the winter. Therefore, the royal families only live in the castle when royals from other countries come to visit.
  2. The word "tapas" refers to an appetizer. In pre-19th century Spain, restaurants would serve customers their alcoholic beverages with a free piece of bread on top of the glass. Eventually, the single tapa grew to include foods such as olives, peanuts, and more.
  3. The biggest Zara in the world lives on 79 Paseo de la Castellana in the heart of Madrid's historic and financial district. This is because the apparel company originated in Madrid. There is basically a Zara every 10 blocks!

This is only the beginning of the experiences I have encountered and the knowledge I have gained. I am eager to continue exploring the city and sharing all I learn with the rest of the world!