Today marks my first week living in Madrid and I’m already feeling like a Madrileño. I live with a host mother we call Mar, her husband, two sons, and baby daughter named Inoah. No one in the family speaks English, so while at home it is complete Spanish immersion. Our apartment is located in the heart of Madrid, right next to Puerta del Sol. Fun fact, Madrid geographically is the center of Spain, and Puerta del Sol is the center of Madrid… so we are quite literally centrally located. My room has a beautiful balcony that looks out over El Palacio Real, the official home of the Spanish royal family. I live with two girls from SJU and our other roommates are from Loyola Marymount University in California. After just seven days, we are already feeling like family.
Our location makes travel super easy, being that we can walk practically everywhere and have the option of taking the metro. We do TONS of walking (yesterday my Fitbit counted 7.8 miles)! Classes at Saint Louis University are about two miles away, and this week we have walked to class to learn our way around the city. Most days we get lost at least three times en route, so leaving an hour before class is the norm…but something we have learned to love as we can explore Madrid…while practicing our Spanish when asking for directions!
As for school, in addition to three GEP requirement classes, I am taking two advanced Spanish classes; one literature and one written, both taught completely in Spanish. Although I felt way out of my league the first few days, I’m already much more confident with my Spanish and happy I stuck with it. The SLU campus is only three buildings, kind of positioned in a triangle shape. In a typical day you see almost everybody on campus. One of my favorite times is between classes because everyone hangs out in the courtyard or rooftop of Padre Rubio Hall. I love that people from all over come to SLU. There are many American study abroad students, but also a large percentage of international and full time students of the Madrid campus.
Although class is great, TGIF because the weekends mean travel time! This weekend we are staying local as we haven’t even come close to exploring all Madrid has to offer. Tomorrow, a group of us from SJU decided to climb the Torre del Palacio de Cibeles, something I was lucky enough to do on my first trip to Spain. From the top of the tower, there is a breathtaking view of Madrid that I cannot wait to revisit. On Sunday, we’re off to Toledo; an old historic and religious town located outside of Madrid, known for their architecture and homemade jewelry and ceramics…can’t wait!!!!!