My first week in Madrid was… weird. My first two days were tiring and I thank everyday that I have two wonderful, older brothers that have friends that are really cool. I had to search for a room and even though I had a lot of rooms to check, half of them were a disappointing. The other half were non-existent (the person responsible for it didn’t answer me when I got there). So it was stressfull, really, really stressfull, I am not going to lie, especially since I was trying to have a low budget (it’s amazing how big a difference is in the lifestyles in two countries in the same peninsula – renting a proper room for less than 400 euros was impossible). When I realized that it was nearly a mission impossible, we had to make a hard choice – either go to a questionable place or raise the budget. Of course, the chosen was the last.
The place where I stayed wasn’t bad at all – I was searching for a place where I could sleep, have privacy, security and would be clean. I have been living alone for seven years now, so I wasn’t looking for the independence like half of the Erasmus I met were – I was also honestly looking for a calm, study life (I had my share of wild and drunk parties since I started college – I had to let my body rest and actually be a proper adult!) so staying in a residence with a curfew wasn’t exactly a problem for me (specially when they cooked my meals, I had my own bathroom, everything was clean and calm and more importantly, I didn’t had the risk of having anyone come into my room while I slept). I met awesome people there, even though they were all older than me (with the exception of Maria that was my age), from all around Spain. They were all nice to me and even though they all had their accent and specific spanish vocabulary, we got along really well.
The first week I was free to do all I wanted, no academic worries. It was great for me to start knowing my new home. I never got lost – let’s thank Google Maps for that! – and I got to meet the amazing public transportation that Madrid has (Seriously! I could go from one point in the city to the other in less than an hour! I live fifteen kilometers from my college and I take an hour and fifteen minutes to reach it).
It was so cold back then! I love cold, I could live in an eternal winter, especially Madrid’s winter. It was a dry weather – which meant that I just had to be well covered and those -7ºC in the morning were nothing! In Lisbon, if it’s 12ºC it’s so cold I can’t endure it! It’s a humid weather, it’s awful! It’s like the cold ignores all the layers you have covering you and just penetrate your bones. Back to topic! It was cold and it felt so good! Starbucks Hot Chocolate never felt so marvelous and the whole city was like a dream! Now I knew why my brother wanted to live there for the rest of his life (he had been working there for three years and then came back). I, honest to God, miss that weather. I crave that cold, I would give so much to be able to live it again. The fact that I just needed a cape, beanie and scarf over thin clothes to keep me warm, felt so nice to me.
But enough talking about the weather…. Madrid was a true city. It’s plains are a huge reason why the city grew so well – it’s much easier to build in plain than in mountains (like Lisbon). It had large, well organized streets where you didn’t feel too suffocated or too vulnerable. It felt just right. And you had maps all over the metro stations and bus stop (which was great because one can easily lose itself there). The plus side of the city was how much trees it had – Madrid really tried to have a green feel all over the city which made strolling feel so nice (I still don’t have that feel in Lisbon – it’s still too urban). In the outside, the buildings are generally beautiful and well worked; it was unusual to see bad-looking buildings.
My first week there taught me a lot of things about venturing into a city and leaving for Erasmus – in matter of fact, leaving for any type of adventure. It came to the point where I made a list of “Survival Tips If You Are Going On Erasmus Or That Kind Of Adventure” (which I have the intention of posting it here as soon as I polish it and edit it out). To compensate until next Erasmus post, here’s a few photos I took in my first week.