Getting to Know Madrid

Olivia Young in Spain

On a sunny street in Ronda, Spain.

“¡Chicas! ¡Perdona! ¡CHICAAAAAAS!”

We turned, ready to fend off yet another “Compro Oro” guy or an especially aggressive club promoter. I discovered instead a flustered, apron-clad barista hurtling down the street in our general direction, screaming as loudly as she could.

Once she caught up to us, she explained that we’d committed an unforgivable offense: We’d left the café with our half-full (glass) water bottles and carried them into the street. (“Es que esto no se puede hacer! Lo siento chicas!”)

I told her we’d give them back, but we wanted to drink the water first. (I also gave her a little culture lesson about how, in the U.S., when you order anything at a restaurant it’s basically yours to keep. Just so she knew where the confusion came from.) She was surprisingly nice and waited patiently for us to chug the water. After a few more lo sientos, we returned the bottles and went our separate ways.

I’ve been in Spain for two weeks now, and, like the Great Bottle Misunderstanding of 2013, it all feels a bit surreal. The time has gone both extremely fast and incredibly slow; most days I’m so busy that I can’t process the fact that this is my life now. I have to consciously run through the facts to really feel the gravity of the changes I’m going through: I live here. I have an apartment. I have a metro pass. I have a Spanish cell phone. I even have Spanish shampoo and conditioner. (Okay, it’s Garnier, but the label is in Spanish.)

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The Best (and Worst) of EasyPiso

EasyPiso Listing

My listing on EasyPiso.

I have too much time on my hands.

The visa process was an absolute nightmare, but at least I felt productive. Now that I have my visa (literally locked away in a safe, by the way), I’m at a standstill. I have one day left with my wonderful coworkers at my current job. I’m finishing up my TEFL certification. I’m trying to save as much money as possible for Spain, i.e. I spend a lot of time saying, “I’d love to go out, but I don’t want to spend money.” Then I follow that up by staying in and watching six episodes of Mad Men.

It’s too early to pack for Spain. It’s too early to plan private English classes. It’s too early to make elaborate binders filled with photocopies of all my important documents. At the same time, my departure is so close that it’s hard to think about anything else.

So, what do I do with all my spare time?

I look for apartments.

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