I can’t believe I’ve already been in Madrid for almost three weeks now! I've been going nonstop since getting here and I'm still completely exhausted. I feel like I've been here for ages, it's very strange. But so far I am absolutely loving it. It is so different from home-- the culture, the food, the people, the nightlife. Every street I walk down I have to stop and take pictures. The architecture is like nothing I've ever seen. The people here are all very friendly (so much nicer than New Yorkers), and I am definitely glad I’m being forced to speak Spanish all the time.
My host family is wonderful. My mom, Pilar, is so kind and welcoming. We call her "mapi," a term of endearment her kids called her when they were young. Her daughter, Maria, is also very sweet. She's a lawyer and is always starting up conversations with me, even if I have to take long pauses to try to respond. It has been a lot of head nods, smiles, and "si's" while I've been here. Neither of them speak English. They'll know a few words here and there but I have to speak to them entirely in Spanish, which is certainly frustrating because there is so much I'd like to speak to them about but I'm not nearly knowledgeable enough to carry on full-length conversations. My comprehension is definitely much better than my speaking. My classes are all taught in Spanish so my understanding of the language is rapidly improving.
I’m enrolled in the documentary filmmaking program here (there’s only 3 of us!) so I'm taking four classes: documentary filmmaking, Spanish cinema, colloquial Spanish, and translation for film and theater. So far they are all interesting. In Spanish cinema we are covering a bunch of Almodovar movies, and in the colloquial class I am learning all kinds of Spanish slang ranging from casual greetings to ordering beers at a bar. In the translation class, we are translating scenes from classic movies like Annie Hall into Spanish. Woody Allen is definitely not an easy writer to translate, so it's pretty challenging. The documentary class will consume most of my time as the three of us begin pre-production for the film we are shooting. We’ve been looking around the city the past few weeks to find a topic to explore. We decided to focus on the cultural significance of “pan” or bread in each meal in Spain. We are traveling to different panerias to film the process of bread making and interviewing different families to see how bread plays a role in their family dinners. I’m sure we will be eating a lot of bread along the way so I definitely don’t mind that. Overall, the food here has been delicious. There is ham and egg in everything! And they also barely refrigerate anything! The eggs, milk, and juices are always left out. So strange.
I've already visited Toledo, a small village about an hour outside of Madrid. It was so quaint-- cobblestone streets and beautiful churches and synagogues. I felt like I had stepped into a scene from Don Quijote. Next weekend, we are traveling to Granada, which is supposed to be filled with Moorish architecture. I can’t wait. We have already booked other weekend trips to Sevilla, Barcelona, and Amsterdam. In March, I have a two week spring break where we are planning to go to Dublin and the southern coast of France-- Nice, St Tropez, and Monaco, and then venture over to Italy to cover Florence and Rome. Yup, I know you’re jealous.
I will be sure to keep you guys posted on my travels! I miss Boston and hope everyone is off to a great semester.