With the last month of my time here in Madrid approaching, I’m constantly thinking about what I want to accomplish with the short time I have left. Yet, I have realized that I’ve accomplished so much this year. I have been able to switch the country I live in, my home, family, and way of life to the extent that now I feel totally normal living here in Madrid. My Spanish is better than ever before and I feel very comfortable speaking it all day with everyone. I’ve put a lot of work into making activities for the girls at the Montoya home and do my best to help every afternoon I spend with them. I’ve begun giving English classes at the Neighborhood Association of Ventilla and have taken it upon myself to spread information about the workshops offered and find someone to help us with the English classes in the afternoons. Through traveling I’ve seen more of the world and in doing so have made meaningful connections and friendships in Madrid and all over Europe. I know the district of Tetuan and the center of Madrid very well and have been a tour guide for friends who have visited. I have become immersed in the Spanish way of life (not sure how I’ll go back to eating meals at the normal time) and have learned how to make some Spanish dishes!
Two weeks ago, Valencia celebrated their world famous Fallas/Falles festival. I, along with my friend from back home, Eddie, headed to Valencia to partake in the celebrations. We stayed with Carmen, a friend of mine studying in Valencia, and her roommates who also invited a number of their friends. Thanks to Carmen, and her friends, Eddie and I were able to enjoy Falles through a somewhat local perspective; although they are not from Valencia, they have now lived and studied there for several years. Falles felt like a kick start to the last two months of my time in Spain, providing a spark that made March fly by, leaving me and my fellow fellows, trying to fill every weekend, day, and minute with a meaningful and new experience.
Every week night I take a ten-minute walk from the Paco de Lucia metro station to my home after work. The air is crisp and cold; it is late at night so there are only a few people coming out of the metro. My walk begins with a stretch of uphill; to my left is a cement wall which ends where an incline with bushes and vines begins. To the right is a road where the occasional car or bus heading to plaza de Castilla passes by. Also to the right, once I am higher up on the incline, I can see the dimly lit apartments against the dark blue sky. Beyond these I can see the lights of the buildings in the distance, and above the metro exit the occasional train passes by with a loud blow of its whistle. After the incline, I continue walking on a straight road past the Mercadona, a large supermarket, followed by a vibrant street with restaurants on one side and apartments on the other. Even though my walk home is usually between 10 and 11 pm, there are always people sitting outside eating and talking. I pass by waiters and people walking their dogs (there are so many dogs where I live). I hear the chatter coming from the people eating and cars passing by; on occasion one of the workers and I exchange a good night. This peaceful residential area I call home is a welcomed respite from the stress and hustle of the day. Once I arrive to the gate to enter my apartment complex, I wave to the doorman who always lets me in.