After what has felt like the most exhausting week, my suitcases are unpacked and I’ve finally settled down in Madrid.
I waved goodbye to my Dad a couple of days ago meaning I’m officially alone in a new city, setting out on my long, anxiously anticipated year abroad.
If you don’t know already, I’ve moved to Madrid for my third year of University. I’ll be teaching English in a Spanish secondary school 4 days a week requiring me to unearth my authoritative side and control a classroom full of pubescent teenagers. One week in, I thought I’d reflect a little on my experience so far in the Spanish capital.
Expectation vs. Reality
Before I left, the immediate reaction to me spending nine months in Spain was ‘how exciting!’. While yes, it is exciting, the excitement is clouded by sheer anxiety and apprehension.
I never anticipated just how overwhelming arriving at the Spanish capital would be. Moving to Leeds two years ago was undeniably frightening; living alone for the first time, meeting new people, having to cook, clean, do everything myself. This, on the other hand, is that same experience but multiplied by 100. Trying to find accommodation felt futile, the documentation seems endless and even finding the most basic thing in a supermarket becomes a treasure hunt.
Then there’s the whole speaking Spanish thing. In other words, the whole reason I’m here in the first place. I’ve always been pretty confident with my listening comprehension when it comes to the language. However, as soon as I arrived it dawned on me how maintaining or even initiating a casual conversation with native speakers is a challenge. Fluency also becomes an issue when it comes down to the nitty-gritty of sorting out documentation and contracts.
Nonetheless, I have already learned so much after this first week. Just from meandering the supermarket aisles or scanning menus, I’ve learned new Spanish vocab which I doubt I would have come across otherwise. I mean, what Spanish class teaches the word for bed sheets?
Something else I never thought would happen? Moving into a 16 person flat. Finding accommodation was no picnic and basically, I was desperate. Out of the 16 of us, I happen to be the only one from the UK and one of only three native English speakers, so it’s quite the multi-lingual flat.
So it begins
October 1st marked my first day of teaching. Again, I’m definitely not the paragon of confidence, but fake it till you make it right? For the first week, I have to introduce myself with a powerpoint presentation which admittedly looks as if it has been constructed by a five-year-old. I could feel my voice going hoarse halfway through the day as I tried to enunciate my English clearly and guise the scouse accent so the students could understand me. Let’s just say, after a mere five hours, I already have so much respect for teachers.
In addition, over the weekend I finally got to explore some of the city properly without the thought of having an endless to-do list hammering at my brain. We soaked up the sunshine while strolling through Retiro Park, ate at Madrid’s renowned Museo del Jamon at the Plaza Mayor, and took a long walk to the other side of the city to visit the resplendent Palacio Real de Madrid.
I don’t think it’s hit me until now that Madrid is my home for the next 9 months. I’m reminding myself that this aspect of my degree is forcing me to do something that I never would have thought myself capable of. While it’s terrifying right now, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and I’m going to soak up every moment of it.
So, after my 2 week blog hiatus, I’m planning on continuing with my usual, willy-nilly blog posts, but I’m also hoping to post some year abroad updates and general Madrid based content!
Are you currently starting something new? Jobs, degrees, hobbies? Let me know!
Thanks for reading