Welcome to the second installment of Kasey’s Time in Spain, in which you will find out about her struggles with public transportation, setting up a bank account, and various other things that will make you wonder how she will survive the next few months.
Okay, so I’m being dramatic, but still…is it normal to question yourself on the daily if you will be able to function for the remaining time you have in Spain? I just keep telling myself it will get easier…
Anyhow, last week I had to head into Madrid to get my fingerprints taken for my TIE, aka a card that allows me to stay in the country for an extended period of time. It was my first time going to Madrid from my town of Villanueva de la Cañada, and if you know anything about me, you know I’m helpless when it comes to directions. Luckily, my host mom told me exactly what I needed to do, so my ride there went without a hitch. The way back was a different story. First, I couldn’t find the buses in the giant station of Príncipe Pío. I literally wandered around for a good 10 minutes, pretending to know where I was going, then doing an about-face after I made sure nobody was looking because I had been going in the wrong direction. Then, when I finally found the buses, I didn’t know the protocol.
What you should do: Know the number of the port where your bus is. Wait in line with everyone else. Go outside and enter bus after the driver opens the doors.
What I DID do: Went outside and wandered the bus platform, searching desperately for my bus number and having no luck until a worker asked me what I was doing and probably questioned my sanity as he pointed across the terminal to where my bus was. I’m telling you, I’m helpless.
But it’s okay, because I did do one thing right last week: I got a Spanish bank account all by myself! Granted, it took a lot of, gesturing and writing things down when I couldn’t communicate in Spanish to the woman at the desk, but I was overall successful. Well, until I had to come back to pick up my debit card a week later. The guy at the desk kept asking me if I had asked for the card (pedir) when I set up my account, but I kept thinking he was asking me if I had lost my card (perder) and it was all sorts of confusing. Until I realized I’m an idiot and then we got it figured out.
In other news, I visited my school the other day to meet some of the teachers and the director…I start tomorrow and am pretty excited, albeit a little nervous. I still don’t know my schedule yet, but it looks like I’ll get either Mondays or Fridays off–hellooo, 3 day weekends! I’ve also started tutoring my host sisters and two neighbor girls, so that’s been pretty neat as well.
What I’ve Been Doing for Fun:
- I met up with my friend, Nicole, from Purdue last week. We went to a cafe for lunch and talked about how our experiences were during our first weeks in Spain. It’s so nice having a fellow Boilermaker around during this crazy experience!
- Some friends and I went to Matadero Plaza last week for a little festival called El Plaza en Otoño, or The Plaza in Autumn. They had all kinds of food stands set up, plus little concerts and such…we ate the most delicious tacos and ice cream (#notspanish) and enjoyed the time outside.
- I went to this store called Primark for the first time…talk about a life changer! It was gigantic, with several floors of clothes and homegoods. Plus it’s cheap, so I “splurged” on a cute top for 8 euros. Apparently there’s one in Boston now…and how convenient? Yashas is moving there in a couple weeks…
- Turns out the YMCA is NOT as popular in Spain as it is in the US. My friend Minorka and I went to a karaoke bar last weekend and pretty much made fools of ourselves trying to get the crowd pumped up with the song, but to no avail. Oh well, we still had fun!
- Some friends and I hit up El Rastro, a GIANT market in La Latina. Yo. I’m talking stands upon stands of scarves, necklaces, bracelets, earrings, tank tops, elephant paraphernalia, tapestries, leather goods, and a crap-ton of other stuff. So I bought 2 cheap scarves and some cute little cacti to put in my room, aka spending all my money that I don’t even have because I don’t get paid until November. Yikes.
Homesickness is Real
…and it can hit you at any moment. Last Sunday, I had every intention of being a productive human, but instead I locked myself in my room for a good 7 hours and moped around. I missed my family, my friends, and my boyfriend (with whom I was unable to celebrate our 2 year anniversary). Luckily after a few phone calls to loved ones back home (and a couple hugs from my host mom and sisters), I was back to normal. But after talking to some friends here in Spain the other night, we realized something: so many people from back home think we are having the time of our lives here in Spain, and while we ARE having fun, there are so many hard things about being here that we aren’t necessarily enjoying every waking minute. We are working on telling ourselves this is normal and trying not to get caught up in people’s expectations of what our experience “should” be. It’s a difficult thing to navigate, but I’m getting there :).
I am the Butt of ALL Jokes in this House
That’s right, people. Case in point: the other night I came home from Madrid late because I went out to dinner (and as you know by now, dinner is very late here). Well I arrived back at the house and attempted to unlock the door with my key. IT WOULD NOT WORK. I twisted and turned and before I knew it the key was stuck in the lock. I sent a panicky text to Sandra (“Are you still awake? My key won’t work!”), so Carlos came down and had to open the garage to let me in. And then he simply turned my key in the door and it opened. Of course. They jokingly asked if I was drunk, and now they “accuse” me of being drunk whenever I do something dumb. I tell ya, living here has been good practice in the art of laughing at myself. But I love them, jokes and all :).
Spanish Phrase of the Day: Paso a paso = step by step. I’m learning things here paso a paso.
Missing: My family, friends, neighbors, and bf. Peanut butter.
Not Missing: The humidity, paying tax on the things I buy (if it says its 3 euros, it’s 3 euros), tipping at restaurants, and drivers who hate pedestrians (everyone stops for you to cross the street here!). Oh, also corn fields.
Guest Blogging: My friend Sam is blogging for CIEE about all her adventures, and was kind enough to ask me to be a guest blogger for one of her posts! Check it out by clicking HERE.
Funny Story: Because I am Taco Bell’s #1 fan, I follow them on various forms of social media. One day on Instagram, Taco Bell advertised their new freeze flavor: Air Heads White Mystery. *Mouth proceeds to drop open and I begin salivating.* I knelt down before the Taco Bell gods and begged them to have this delicious new product in Madrid. I then proceeded to enter a Taco Bell, and, having no vocabulary to describe such a drink, I showed to picture to the worker. The bewilderment on his face told me everything I needed (but didn’t want) to know: it did not exist in Spain. He even asked a coworker to be sure, but it was no use. So, moral of the story is, Madrid’s Taco Bell has mojitos and ice cream, but it doesn’t have Air Heads White Mystery flavored freezes. Tragic.
We eat too much ice cream 🍦
Also, watch my first GoPro video from Spain HERE!