¡Hola a todos! It’s Ryan again, reporting from Madrid, Spain. It’s officially been a week since my arrival here, and it has been a looong but fun-filled week! I’m very excited to tell you a little bit about what I’ve been up to.
Earlier this morning, some friends and I made our way to El Rastro, an outdoor market that takes place every Sunday here in Madrid. The street was filled with tents, each one offering its own collection of goods to be sold: clothes, jewelry, purses and bags, pocket watches, keychains, posters, and more. Something that has struck me about Madrid is that things seem to be much cheaper here, and I could see that clearly at this market, where I purchased a necklace charm, made from real silver, for only nine euros. The market was a beautiful, bustling reflection of city life here in Madrid.
In addition to the market, my friends and I have shopped at other stores throughout the city, and we’ve visited several cafes (called cafeterías here) in search of a little caffeinated pick-me-up.
One of the more interesting–and at times stressful–experiences I’ve had here in Madrid is taking el metro, or the subway, from place to place. We will often take the metro to different destinations during our 21st Century Madrid class, a class in which we visit interesting locations around the city. My friends and I have also learned to use the metro outside of class, taking it to different areas of the city to explore, shop, or grab a bite to eat. The metro is laid out in a giant web, with several lines intersecting, and two different trains per line going in opposite directions. It has taken a little practice to get used to finding the right train, and disembarking and re-boarding when we need to hop on a different line–but we’re getting there! Soon, we’ll be pros at navigating the metro.
One of the things that has shocked me most about the metro is how crowded it gets. One of our program coordinators told us at the beginning of our trip that “we Spaniards don’t care as much about personal space as you Americans”…and this is especially apparent on the metro. It’s an interesting experience for sure!
I can’t finish this post without mentioning the literature class that I’ve been taking here in Madrid at la Universidad de Nebrija! It’s been a great class; my profesora is very kind, funny, and passionate about the material. During this first week, we’ve discussed some of the most famous works of literature produced during the Middle Ages in Spain. In fact, I have a presentation in the class tomorrow comparing a modern song (I’ve chosen The Boxer by Simon and Garfunkel) to el Cantar del Mío Cid, a long medieval poem that was for many years passed on orally and memorized until being transcribed. Wish me luck!
And speaking of the medieval times, I had the chance to visit the city of Toledo in Castilla-la Mancha yesterday! The city was established several hundred years ago during the reign of the Visigoth Empire, and then was developed throughout the next centuries (including the Middle Ages) to become what it is today. It’s a beautiful city, rich with history and culture–I hope to return someday!
Thanks for reading, and I can’t wait to post another update next week!