My first blog entry since arriving! Man, it’s been hectic. Well, I say hectic, I don’t start class until 3pm every day, but you know.
- It’s party time!
One Small Step for (Wo)man
Getting on the plane to Madrid was actually a lot less scary than I thought. Mainly because it was FULL OF SPANIARDS and they were chatting away and I was sneakily eavesdropping and I understood them! I was both excited to meet loads of people that actually spoke Spanish, and thrilled by the idea that I wasn’t as bad at Spanish as I thought, and everything was going to be gloriously intelligible.
Madrid airport is THE most confusing airport I’ve ever landed in. We (me, my mum and my step-dad) had to walk through cafés and up and down escalators and all sorts to find the baggage reclaim. Also, guidance note: don’t get a cab from the airport. There’s a metro for €2 or so to town, and then a train from there for €5ish, whereas the cab cost €52. Admittedly, we had lots of bags which would’ve been a mish on the train, but still a rip off.
Got to RESA, the university residence halls. I picked them because they seemed like a pretty big complex, so I could chill with Spaniards, and the room I applied for was about €360, which seemed about right. But, when they allocated rooms, they put me in the most expensive room instead, which is more like €460, not including bills. Like, who are they kidding. I now know that you can get cute little old flats in town for about €250-€300 with bills included, which also saves the bus ride for €1,1 (or cab ride, for €9)! Currently investigating to see if I can wiggle out of my contract and live with someone on my course.
Education, Education, Education
So, Alcalá University run a language course before term starts. They have a written and oral assessment beforehand, then slot you in from levels A1-C1. The beginner classes go from 9am-1.30pm, and the advanced from 3pm-7.30pm (!). Not that it really matters, it’s still light and sunny til 9pm or so. The University also has a pretty ace Erasmus group, called the Erasmus Student Network. They organise trips around Spain, parties, club nights and other shenanigans. I presume I will have more to say about them as time goes by!
Livin’ the Life
Alcalá de Henares is, point of fact, BEAUTIFUL. I’ve told pretty much everyone I’ve met how ‘bonito’ it is. Later on I’ll do a labelled map, but for now I’ll just give a wee description. There’s the main Plaza de Cervantes, which has a bandstand, kiosks and whatnot, then the Calle Mayor, where most of the bars/restaurants are. There aren’t really restaurants, as such. All the bars have a ‘drink and a tapas for €2,5′ or so kind of deal, so instead of dinner you basically wander from bar to bar getting drinks and a variety of quite filling tidbits. Though, try and translate them as best you can first: we ordered ‘gulas’, which looked like noodles or spaghetti. Turned out to be baby eels. Yummy! El Cafetería de Juan is the only place open before 10am, and does a really good breakfast deal: café con leche with some food (croissant, toast, etc) for €2, so get on that if you’re in town early. (Also, the Spaniards have olive oil and salt on their toast. It’s actually pretty tasty. Who knew?)
When we arrived in Alcalá, it was extremely busy. There were people everywhere, especially children! This place is crazy family friendly. We realised why, come the end of the week. We’d arrived in the middle of a festival! We came out of our bar to see the main road on the Plaza de Cervantes lined with people, so we joined the crowd in case anything wild was going on. A lovely Spanish lady understood that we were foreign, thrust a carrier bag at me and explained that there would be people throwing sweets. Then ensued about an hour of floats, dancers and people in fancy dress parading past us, throwing sweets at our heads! I collected a good few fistfuls, some of which are still next to me as I write. It was immense, and I couldn’t have had a better welcome to Alcalá.
Thus concludes my first few days. ¡Hasta luego!