Week 2: Somewhere In a City That Starts With “S”

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Update number 2: I’m falling more in love with Madrid every day.

This place already feels like home, and I’ve quickly slipped into a routine. I’m soaking in every moment, and that’s easy to do here. Everything is brighter, and more beautiful, and more intentional. People move differently. Life moves differently. And I’m already dreading coming back to the normalcy of the midwest. 

There are moments when it really hits me, what I’m doing, where I am. When I’m running through the streets of Madrid with my friends, trying to find the right Metro to take us to the nightclub at 1 a.m. When I’m walking home from the store and I decide to stop for a croissant in the cute artisan bakery on the corner. When I’m booking a last minute flight to Belgium for the weekend like it’s no big deal, when in reality, this whole thing is kind of a big deal. The things I’m seeing, the things I’m learning, the ways in which I’m growing… I don’t even know how to articulate them. 

The best lesson I’ve learned so far, though, is that when you’re comfortable in yourself and you’re confident in your abilities, anyplace in the world can be your home. A few years ago, I never could have done the things that I am doing so easily today. The daily challenges of not speaking the language and navigating a new city with a new transportation system (not to mention planning trips, budgeting, and doing it all while translating currencies) can really add up. But before I left, I found a peace within myself. My friends and my treatment team helped to instill it, but ultimately, it was something that I had to do on my own. I had to start believing in myself, to find safety in my only constant: my breath, my being, my heart. So when people ask if I’m homesick, my honest answer is “NO!” I am alive. I am thinking. I am learning. And so, with that, I am home. 

 

January 15

I’m Back In Business

I finally kicked this nasty upper respiratory infection and hit the streets with my roomies! We went to a bar called Dubliners, after stopping for cheap drinks near our apartment. It was nice to finally get out!

 

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January 16

TEATRO KAPITAL

I had class today from 9:30 a.m. to 6:15 p.m. But. We had free entry wristbands to Madrid’s hottest seven story club, so, you know, we kind of forgot about the “tired” part. 

First, we went to Space Monkeys, a rock n roll themed bar with lots of neon lights and some pretty fun drinks! Then, we ran to the metro to get ourselves to Kapital, where we stayed until 4 a.m. Yup. Madrid goes hard. 

Kapital is one of the coolest places I have ever been (overpriced drinks aside). Each floor has a different theme, and it was beyond fun to just wander, hear the different music, and meet interesting people. The night flew by, but I was definitely wiped out the next day!

 

January 17

FriYAY

Since my friend Rachel and I didn’t have class again today, we decided to go to Lolina (my favorite cafe!!) to “do homework”. But we didn’t do homework. We planned our Grand UK Escapade, which started as a little trip to Galway to see our friend for her birthday, and ended up taking us all across Ireland to Edinburgh, Scotland. So, stay tuned, because the end of February blog post is going to HIT

Side note: travel planning is hard but oh so fun!! If all goes according, we’re planning to hit around 14 countries in our time abroad! YAY for new adventures!

January 18

Salamanca

Today, I took another bus trip through my school to Salamanca, Spain. I didn’t know much about Salamanca, but I was glad that I got to see it. The city is home to the University of Salamanca, which is 800 years old! There are also two lovely cathedrals. I kind of did a double take, though, when the tour guide said that the stepping stones under our feet were actually the graves of important figures in the church. 

The vegetarian in me was cringing this weekend, but I snapped some pictures for you anyway! Ham is very important to Spanish cuisine. Basically every dish has “jamon”, and most restaurants and butcher shops (especially in these older cities that I’ve been visiting on the weekends) have a) pig legs with the hooves still on, just sitting out on the tables, b) baby pigs chillin’ in the windows, or c) the whole bottom half of a pig hanging from the ceiling. Not personally a fan, but hey, I’m trying to appreciate the culture :,)

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January 19

Segovia

This was my last day trip through school and it definitely did not disappoint. Segovia, Spain is one of the most beautiful places that I have ever been. It has breathtaking views of the mountains, incredible architecture (an aqueduct that stretches far beyond the length of the city, the most impressive cathedral, a precious Plaza Mayor, and a castle overlooking the countryside). I have truly never been anyplace like it. Our tour was pretty short today, so we got to spend a lot of time just wandering the streets and goofing around. We did learn, though, that climbing the aqueduct is prohibited (sad), only after we already tried to do it (oops). 

Featured: my dark chocolate caramel ice cream (photobombed by Rachel), which was possibly the best thing I have ever tasted.

Not featured: the first veggie burger I found in Spain at Vips (which is, if I had to describe it, kind of like a better Denny’s, made better by the fact that it’s in Spain). 

 

January 20

Shopped ‘til I Dropped

Clothes here are a whole different breed of cute, and the multi-story stores on Grand Via are absolutely going to be my kryptonite. I “needed” new clothes (okay, but I really did! I didn’t bring enough sweaters), so I dragged my friends along on my shopping endeavors. 

Zara in Madrid: next-level. 

This is Gran Via, the main shopping street, on a pretty chill, cloudy day:

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I also snapped a picture in Primark, because my close friends and family have heard me RAVE about Primark. It’s cheap and it has everything! So when people ask what it is, I describe it like everyone here describes it: “It’s like a Spanish Target!”
Okay, yeah, if Spanish Target looked like this:

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Then, we went to Five Guys, because it was close and open and we thought it would be cheap. No, it was not cheap. But it was good nonetheless, and it got us out of the snow/hail situation that was figuring itself out outside. 

We wandered a little more after lunch and found Taste of America, which is a store that has a bunch of U.S. food imports. It was really funny to see what they chose to shelve (Pop-Tarts, boxed mac ‘n cheese, Yankee Candles (???)). It was 10 euro for a box of Oreos, though, so I opted for a strawberry Diet Coke instead. I have never seen strawberry Diet Coke in America, so I was kind of surprised to find it at the American store, but hey, no complaints. America, if you’re reading this, start shelving strawberry Diet Coke, please and thanks.

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Monday night, some of my friends and I went to get churros. Good end to a good day 🙂 

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January 21

Typical Day in the Life

I went to school. I went to Taco Bell (this is becoming a very bad habit for my friends and I, so I’m on a Taco Bell cleanse until further notice). I watched The Bachelor on the VPN that we paid for, because priorities. Nothing too exciting 🙂

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We said “CHEESE FRIES!” (part six thousand)

 

Thanks for reading along! I’ll see you all next week after my trip to Brussels, Belgium!!

 

P.S.: My friends and I have been making Tik Toks. We are very bad at them, but our host mom pretends to think they’re good (“ay chicas, que bien!”) So here you go. I’m sorry? You’re welcome?

Author lifebylexi

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