Starting up in Spain

Iona Seligman’s iPhone, 20th September 

Location: Filogia C, Ciudad Universitaria

Local Weather: Madrid SUNNY 29˚, H:33˚ L:18˚ 

Notifications:       2 Days until your 22nd birthday       3 Days until Toledo trip

Calendar:       Spanish class 10.00-14.00       Bank Santander meeting 11.30       Class picnic 17.00 Retiro park       Future Flatmates drinks 21.00 Alonso Martinez    


New vocabulary / slang for today:

a ojo de buen cubero – a little bit more / as an expert would

a pelo – straight up / down the line 

Both the above are to be used most often in the bar setting. I think that this is the certainly the main advantage for me in doing an Erasmus – culturally immersive language learning. I spent my summer living in Barcelona frantically accumulating some spanish and as there, here I have no shame in buying gossip magazines or lazing in front of the television with a friend or in a bar as it’s educational – I’m learning Spanish! It’s also the perfect way to fill in conversational blanks with questions about words or phrases you hadn’t understood that day and an easy way in to conversation with new people. In Madrid, although more conservative in general, the madrileños are much more open to chat to foreigners than in Barcelona where the overwhelming number of tourists must be quite offputting! I’m also looking forward to playing the native english speaker card here as it opens a lot of doors – I’ve even seen rooms advertised for free in return for helping to improve the owners English!

Although I have travelled a lot before and lived in various countries this will be the first time since I was 11years old I’ve stayed in a foreign country for more than 3 months. I’m enjoying the relaxed approach to knowing a place –  Ive turned flat viewings into a novel way to familiarse myself with the city and its barrios. I’ve luckily got cousins putting me up and introducing me to their friends whilst I settle into life here and look for a flat so have taken my time in finding one. As such I’ve traipsed down to Lavapies where I viewed an achingly hip room next to a great Sengalese restaurant where I met some Erasmus students (somewhat nervously as they were flatmates and I’d met one of them once – but cojones are an essential thing to oack it seems for erasmus) but the lack of proper sanitation in the appartment block meant I passed the national arts centre by up to Sol where the huge (but expensive) room I was viewing was rented whilst I looked around the flat, passing through the beautiful Plaza Santa Ana where I spied a gym I liked the look off I ambled through the Huertas area enchanted by the little cervecerias and winding pebbled streets, from their I headed east to Plaza España and saw a slightly souless student residence on a busy sidestreet crammed with chinese restaurants, herbal therapists and “massage shops” weirdly opposite a police station. Continuing on foot down past Opera and Principe Pio I failed to get past the armed guards for the seemingly bucolic shortcut through the Campo de Moro as it is the private park of the Palace – ooops. Ah well it made for a scenic route through the Jardins de Sabbatini, past the romanesque palace and Almudena Cathedreal. Jumping down some steps past a seemingly roman (*more on that later) ruin and under the puente de Segovia I found the flat nestling on the edge of the antiquated but thriving La Latina neighbourhood. Only 40minutes late – positively prompt for spain!

It’s a brutal world room hunting. It’s not unlike dating. Everyone’s looking for that instanteous conection and has their list of essential compatible features. Some girls in multicultural Embajadores wanted a tenant for 1yr+, a touring university professor wanted a girl he could trust his (very nice) flat with during his long absences, others just did’t see what they wanted in me but the majority of owners just don’t get back to you unless you hound them shamelessly! The boys of the la latina flat are making a decision between the 20 odd people they had view the room and i’m setting off to impress at drinks, or ought I say final interview round, in an hour – argh!!!

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