Getting to know Madrid

Hola! My name is Jenny Grace and this will be my second year of community college. I enjoy experiencing new cultures, foods, people, and in my free time, I like to read, play volleyball, and thrift shop. I had discovered that SBCC offers study abroad programs around January, and I could not believe my luck. Initially, studying abroad seemed like the perfect way to discover myself outside the comfort of the small town where I grew up. Now after a week of being abroad, I am reveling in the magnitude of change that is stirring, and excited to find out everything I am capable of. Join me as the official Madrid Program student blogger and social media person as I share my abroad experience with you here. You can also follow me on Instagram @jennygracex

Jenny Oslund

I could not believe that our apartment is situated in the heart, the Centro, of Madrid. From my window I can see the dome of the Almudena Cathedral and the beginning of Puerta de Sol. However, with such close proximity to the city center, comes the city buzz. 

Hotel Anaco
A building I stumbled across
after a downpour of rain.
Spain runs on a completely different time schedule: a light breakfast, lunch at 2 or 3pm, a snack or tapas around 5pm or 6pm,  then dinner between 9pm and 11pm. People are out walking around very late at night and streets are always busy and full of life. Adjusting to the city buzz took some time, but once we took part in Spain’s late time schedule, we were so exhausted in keeping up that we slept despite the chaos. 
Santa Maria Cathedral of Toledo
Santa Maria
Cathedral of Toledo

I always found that navigating my way through subways and streets in big cities like New York or San Francisco was such an adventure in itself. Whether it is midday or midnight here in Madrid, the city is alive with places to discover, music to hear, and food to eat. Speaking with locals is uplifting as well, because the culture shock fades away and I am becoming more in tune with the people and way of life. 

Although the language barrier is evident, I feel that my Spanish language knowledge is slowly but surely evolving. Navigating my way in new circumstances has been insightful to say the least, but I believe that nothing worth having comes easy.  

View of the city from my
 apartment window
Anyways, we have already completed a tour of a neighboring city called Toledo, which is famous for being the city of three religions that coexisted peacefully (at one point) – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. 

The architecture styles are clear indicators of the culmination of cultures. Jewish temples have Arabic designs, or what was once a mosque is now a Catholic church. The city itself is an interesting divide of not only the remains of the three religions but also with the past and present. In one of the squares, I  saw a McDonalds, Burger King, and Starbucks. It is strange to see these American establishments in the same square where there were once bullfights and public executions.
Puerta del Sol
View of a hostal along
Puerta de Sol

I had several predispositions of what being away from home would feel like, but in reality, I have been craving an experience like this for a while. My class mates and I keep saying to each other how unbelievable it is that we are living in Madrid, and we are savoring every moment that comes our way.  

I hope you’ll join me in my journey abroad and come back for my next blog!

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