It hasn’t even been two weeks and it feels like we have been living here for months. Now that we are moved into our homestay, we are much happier and much more comfortable. However, the past week has been very busy for both Derek and me.
It was orientation week for me, which included a trip on Monday to IE’s Segovia campus, some networking events, and a lot of workshops. The workshops mainly focused around ethics, “career fitness”, and technology. My ethics professor is actually a graduate from UMass and has been living in Spain for over 6 years with her Spanish husband and kids. A big trend I have noticed with many of the non-Spanish students and faculty, is that a significant number of them moved here either for their significant other or with their significant other. (Dan, where are you?!) I have been getting to know my classmates more and more each day and I am learning so much about the world, especially in the geography department. It is quite embarrassing how terribly inept I am when it comes to world geography or even the geography of the US. Because I have new friends from countries I have never met anyone from before, I may or may not secretly visit google maps to find their country. Yes, embarrassing, but at least I am learning! Although the true learning had not yet started, I was wiped at the end of each day, which made our 9:30 PM dinner time even more challenging.
Derek spent last week job hunting and possibly even a little bit of soul searching. He visited over 15 schools to submit his CV (European equivalent to a resume) and heard back from two schools so far. He interviewed with a language academy and was offered a position to tutor two young boys as well as employees of a Spanish company. The job required a full commitment until June 2018, and Derek isn’t sure where he’ll be in June 2018, let alone January 2018. So, he turned down that offer and had interview on Monday with another language academy.
After wrapping up our first full week in Madrid, Derek and I spent the weekend exploring the city. Saturday, we finally visited the botanical gardens, Real Jardín Botánico. By finally, I mean that we tried to visit the weekend before, but the gardens were about to close and the line was so long. And if you know anything about me, you know that any garden is the first place I want to visit, especially in a big city. However, by the time we got to the garden on Saturday after stopping for some lunch and waiting on the line, we only had about an hour inside before we were kicked out via really loud whistles. There were many beautiful flowers and super cute bonsai trees, but in reality, I wasn’t impressed. I’m giving the garden the benefit of the doubt that because it is fall, even if it doesn’t feel like it, the flowers are not in their prime. There is no question, however, that I will be back for my student discount and a longer visit.
Sunday, we spent the first half of our day at the Mercado de Motores, a flea market located in Madrid’s train museum, which was created inside an old train station. The market is held the second weekend of each month. Inside the museum, different local stores set up their tables with either clothing, food or jewelry. To the right of the museum was the true flea market with tables of antiques and your normal flea market treasures. There was a 6-man band entertaining the crowd as they ate from food carts and danced. Spanish people LOVE dancing. It’s great to watch. Derek and I sat there for about 30-40 minutes just enjoying the band’s remake of “Baby don’t hurt me” and watching the people dance. After the market, Derek and I made our way to Parque de El Retiro. The park is 350 acres, which is small compared to Central Park’s 843 acres, according to Wikipedia, but it felt huge. We wandered our way through the park, stopping to watch a men’s league football (soccer) game, to take some pictures and videos and to most importantly, walk through the adoption event the city was holding! Talk about a great surprise. By the time we finished ogling the dogs and cats, the sun was about to set and we were starving.
This week is my first true week of my program. Throughout my program I will have workshops, intensive crash courses, and of course, a set schedule of classes. My first group presentation is next week, so needless to say I have some work to do. 0 to 100 real fast.