Wandering, Progressing & Choosing Spontaneity
I always say it, but this past month has flown by.
The day I’m uploading this marks exactly one month since I hopped off the plane at Madrid’s airport; one month since the stark Spanish heat hit us, shivering in Liverpool’s cold winds just a few hours earlier; one month since we hauled my two suitcases to the hotel, having not yet found anywhere to live. Now, however, I’ve ‘settled’ into my 16-person flat, and I thought I’d reflect on my first whirlwind of a month in Madrid.
One month in and I can proudly say I no longer have the metro map practically glued to my phone screen. Now you’ll catch me sprinting to and from platforms alongside the other early-starters who slept through their alarms that same morning. Así es la vida.
I’ve spent most of the past month exploring the capital. However, Madrid is still thriving with culture left to experience. There is an abundance of hidden gems scattered around the heterogeneous city and my bucket list of quirky cafes, bars and independent outlets continues to grow. I need nine months to explore Malasaña alone, a neighbourhood found just five minutes away from my flat. It has a wealth of cosy cafes, showcasing dreamy oreo cheesecakes, and beach-sand-filled restaurants bringing la playa to Madrid.
The same goes for the profusion of bookshops the city has at its disposal. While ogling the cakes in Malasaña, I stumbled across Libros para un Mundo Mejor which has the most picture-perfect shop front. My favourite discovery though is a short two-minute walk from my flat, Librería Releer. With reams of books priced at a sheer 2€, my small collection of Spanish novels is looking to increase pretty quickly.
El Rastro markets also had oodles of ‘libros 2€’ stalls, as well as vintage clothing and second-hand furniture stores galore. Although I came home empty handed, I’m planning on returning with something other than a 50€ note to exchange.
As mentioned in Little Things 5, on October 13th I took a trip to Toledo. I’ve planned to upload a post this weekend talking about my day exploring the museum city. From the Gothic Cathedral to the panoramic viewpoint from El Mirador del Valle, it looks just as if it came right out of a fairytale.
Before opting to work for the British Council, I was potentially going to be living and working in Toledo. A part of me would love to live in this quaint little area with awe-inspiring views at your doorstep. However, I’d be missing out on the city life here in Madrid. Another trip is on the cards nonetheless.
I also kicked off the start of my long weekend, i.e. the best part of choosing to teach, to see a production of ‘Jane Eyre’ in theatre. This classic has been a favourite of mine since reading it in college when I had to create a convincing article as to why ‘Jane Eyre isn’t such the Plain Jane as she may seem.’
It was a night of embracing some culture, albeit a remake of a British classic, and I was intrigued to see how it would be interpreted on the Spanish stage. Although I was worried about not understanding everything, I was soon swept up in the 19th-century plot of Jane transforming from an oppressed outcast to an independent woman, marrying the tall dark and not so handsome Edward Rochester (which was amusing when pronounced in a Spanish accent ngl).
Although I still have plenty of time left in Madrid, I can’t believe it’s been a month already. When it comes to making plans, I’m usually someone who needs to have a solid schedule. Perfectionism truly takes over. However, I’m trying to embrace the ‘say yes to everything mindset’. Time flies and this could potentially be my only opportunity to travel around Spain with so much ease.
It’s a process
Teaching in a bilingual school, I have barely uttered a word of Spanish. The kids are practically yelled at if they speak Spanish during their English classes. In short, I’m pretty sure I spoke more Spanish in Leeds.
That being said, as a way of getting some much-needed practice in, I’m working on immersing myself more into the Spanish culture; listening to the radio has become a habit, I’m steadily making my way through Netflix’s diversity of Castillian TV shows, and at this point I’m debating conversing with random locals in cafes with hope that they’ll talk back.
Furthermore, teaching wasn’t what I expected. Preparing 3/4 hour-long lessons each week is laborious, but I guess it’s getting easier. At school, the kids will be cheeky, the technology won’t always co-operate and I’ll often find myself falling into a pit of stress. However, I’m constantly reminding myself that the whole reason I’m in Spain is to improve my Spanish.
In all honesty, I have no interest in teaching post-year abroad. There’s no denying that it’s good experience and will be something to boast about on my CV. However, I don’t want to spend my whole year fretting about PowerPoint slide animations or 13-year-old kids who drive me up the wall. I should be setting my focus on practising the language I love in a city I love, not fiddling with a mass of wires and technology malfunctions.
There are perks of teaching however; discovering the bimonthly tapas day held in the staff room made my mood shoot up from 3-10 real quick. Think teachers knocking back the red wine at 11 am while scoffing their faces with tapas. From Spanish omelette to gazpacho, salchicha canapés to chocolate fudge brownies. Yeah, that was a good day.
I’m well aware that this post is just a complete word-vomit of musings. I can only hope it’s more coherent than my handwritten diary entries which resemble a five-year-old’s jumbled creation of mismatched thoughts and illegible nonsense. Overall, this month has been an overwhelming one, but I’ve truly never experienced anything like it.
So, if you managed to make it through this complete ramble of a blog post, thanks for reading!