Entry 1: June 30, 2012
We spent about three days in Madrid taking in as much of the city as possible. We walked for at least eight hours every day, but the exercise was probably needed given the amount of food we've consumed in this country. As we trekked from plaza to plaza, we saw the National Library, a beautiful park that has the feel of Central Park, many famous museums like the Prado, the Royal Palace, and numerous geeky literature references pointed out to us by Dr. Wade. We watched Spain dominate Ireland 4-0 in the Euro Cup, did a scavenger hunt all over the city, and ate many delicacies like Los Granizados Limones (a lemon slushy), las tortillas (an omelette with potatoes), and Los Churros with chocolate.
We then made our way to the NW corner of Spain called Galicia and a city called Santiago de Compostela. The city is famous for its cathedral and seafood. We've been here about two weeks now and it really has been fantastic. We have to go to school with boys (gasp!) and my class is mainly composed of students from all over the world (Ireland, Scotland, Canada, Japan and South Korea). Class is much more conversation-based here so there definitely has been an adjustment especially because I'm the only one in my class who hasn't lived abroad in a Spanish speaking country for at least a year. My favorite part about school so far is my music class in which we learn about different genres of Spanish music from horribly awesome '80s electronica to traditional flamenco to contemporary indie. At my home stay, I have a madre named Felisa and a hermana named Elena who both are so nice and feed me enough for every meal to feed a small family. I've gotten lost almost every day, but the city is so pretty that it is hard to complain and since Spanish time means everyone is 15 minutes late to everything, it's like I'm early. We watch all the Euro Cup games in a central plaza called Plaza Roja where all the locals gather. The best game so far has been the semifinal game when Spain beat Portugal during penalty kicks after two overtimes. The crowd went WILD. I've always been a fan of soccer players, but lately I've been a big fan of the game too! ¡Viva España!
But my favorite memory so far has been the Festival of San Juan on June 24th. The festival celebrates the past year and the coming year by jumping over fires an odd number of times for good luck, eating sardines, and other superstitions. Two other Meredith students and I traveled to A Coruña for the night. We ended up dancing to a free concert by the famous Mexican band Maná, jumping over lots of fires and relaxing on the beach until almost sunrise. Definitely something I'll never forget.