Monday, September 15, 2014

Day 12: School Has Begun!

As you may have noticed, my blog posts will be much shorter while I'm studying to become an English teacher. My first week has been hectic to say the least. This course is extremely intensive but fun at the same time. My teachers are awesome and the students that I'm learning with are just as cool. That being said the hours are long and the work is even longer which hasn't given me a lot of time to breath.

I'm also a little homesick. It's hard to go from one moment to seeing your parents, your girl friend, and your friends all the time and then for them to just disappear. I hardly talk to any of them either which makes loneliness an issue. This was one of the reasons why I wanted to live with some kids my age so when the inevitability that people in my life would stop talking to me as much I could some what cope by having some distractions around. Well the fact of the matter is I knew of this and even though it's hard I will push through because this is something that I want and with time everything gets a little easier.

On to a much happier note. As suggested by our teachers, a lot of the us went out for drinks this weekend as we shared moments of the stress we've been through and the misery that is to come. We laugh, we drank, and we drank some more. As they suspected it was a serious bonding time for all of us together and definitely much needed. I do need to train myself to go to bed around 7 and wake up around 11 on the weekends because of how silly it looks when I get too tired on the weekends around 2 and want to go home while everyone else stays up until 6! (Spaniards party hard!)

I have my first two classes this coming week on Tuesday and Thursday which is exciting and very nerve racking. My first lesson is done and prepared and the second one I start working on tomorrow so wish me luck!

These are some pics I've taken throughout the week check it out!

These were two classy ways of showing which bathroom were men's and which were women's at a restaurant I ate at.

As I travel you will constantly see street art posted here on my blog because I absolutely love street art. Here are two I've found so far in my travels

Along with wall art I will constantly be posting cool architecture too!

My building that my apartment is in is right next to Museo del Jamon which translates to Museum of Meat. It is a huge meat market, basically what I'm trying to say is that I've hit jackpot!

I got to Skype with my parents for the first time while being here. This is my mom trying to have a conversation with me while my dad does everything in his power to make me crack up. He did a very good job at that.

That is all for now. Later :)

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Day Three: The Metro

Let me first start off by saying that most of the comparisons city-wise I will be doing on this blog will be to New York City, mostly because Livingston, the town I'm from, isn't a city and there is nothing to do there. So with that being said, lets talk the Metro in Madrid.

I'm going to make a statement that is only going to sound bold to the people who have never had the pleasure of taking the subway in NYC: The Metro in Madrid is literally better than NYC subway is every single possible way but one. It is seriously like night and day. Here's a list of reasons why:

1. It's clean. That seems to be the running theme of Madrid in general from what I've seen. Now this isn't to say there isn't garbage on the streets here and there but in comparison to NY, Madrid is spotless.
2. It is always on time and one train is never too far behind the other. Seriously, this is golden. I'm sure there will be instances where the train is running late here but from what I've seen that will be few and far in between. Missed your train? No problemo, another one will be right behind it in 10 minutes of less. 
3. Air conditioned. Something you can't really avoid in subways whether it be NYC or Madrid is that it is usually hot(ter) at the station waiting for your train. But for the New York subway that temperature doesn't always change that much once you hop onto the train itself where the metro here is like a breath of fresh air when walking in.

Ok so here is the one semi-major flaw of the metro in Madrid. It shuts down at 1:30am and doesn't open back up until 6:00am. Dafuq? Maybe this makes sense during the week, I mean you're working right? How late are you actually gonna be out for. But the Spaniards LOVE to party on the weekends and seeing as most bar/clubs don't open until around 12:00/1:00am and don't usually close until around 6:00am why would stop the most popular way of transportation around a time where everyone is out? Now you can pay 56 euros to get an unlimited monthly pass for the metro and the bus (awesome!) so as someone who wants to travel and see all of Madrid that is pretty damn amazing. But 56 euros aint cheap and neither is having to pay 11 euros to take a taxi home every weekend. I mean the other alternative is to stay out until 6:00am (which I did last night) Which is great to do sometimes but not really great for your body all the time. Not all subways continuously ran in NYC at all hours but some did and if you needed to get home 4 in the morning you could.

So what's my verdict? Madrid metro is just a better subway experience in the NYC.

The heat has been pretty difficult to deal with here at times.  Especially when sleeping because the overall temperature doesn't drop too low at night time. I'm talking high 90's day time and mid 70's night time. Now this is exactly what I wanted, to live somewhere that was warm and I love it but I don't think my body has yet adapted to the climate change yet. I wake up in the morning along with a good portion of my day feeling fatigue and sweaty. Kind of an icky feeling if you ask me but this weather isn't gonna be lasting that much longer so I am trying to embrace it while it's still here.

Knowing how tired I was because of the heat I decided I wasn't going to do much today until the night time so I can relax and attempt to get as well rested as possible before going out and getting my drink.

The first thing I end up doing was around 9:00pm with a friend and it was El Museo Arte Publico which was a free outside sculpture art museum located at an underpass of a highway. Every piece was pretty extraordinary and complicated looking and a great way to kill some time before heading out.

A wonderfully made flowing water fall

This was my favorite piece. It gets super complex towards the middle.

Straight hanging statue chillin

One of the buildings near the museo just had a gigantic wall of blue led strips. Was cool to look at.

Originally I was gonna end this post with my thoughts on my first club experience but I have decide to hold off and wait until I have one or two more experience with different clubs in Madrid to form a fair opinion.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Day Two

A realization happen to me today that usually occurs in every persons life when you move out somewhere new, I left stuff I needed at home. Shit. Although not the end of the world it really makes you wonder how you forget some essential items like a towel, a toothbrush or sunglasses.

In any case today was dedicated to meeting up with people who were taking the same TEFL course with me and doing something fun/interesting in Madrid. The three of us ventured out to Museo Nacional Del Prado which is rated one of the top museums in Madrid. There we saw beautiful artwork and sculptures by the likes of Goya and Velazquez. The outside architecture was just as awe inspiring as well. This was probably the biggest museum I've ever been to as we spent a good hour and half in it only on the main floor which mean next time I go back I still have two more floors of that museum to discover.

The life of a boss

Lets talk food and drinks. I feel like I've wasted 20 years of my life not knowing what fresh food tastes like. Simple stuff like bread, ham, and cheese should not be exploding my taste buds in satisfying bliss like it has been. A lot of the day was spent discovering different forms of tapas and vino (wine).

Let me explain to you why American traditions suck. Tapas, for the unaware, is basically a wide variety of appetizers or snacks usually cooked in a Spanish cuisine type of style and 9 times out of of 10 this comes free with your alcoholic beverage. I know what you're thinking, free? What's free? See in American culture that would easily be $10 add on to your single over priced drink order. Now ask anyone who has been to Madrid before and they'll all tell you pretty much the same thing, "Make sure you try the different Tapas" "Tapas are the greatest thing ever" "Have I told you about the Tapas yet?" Yes, it does get incredibly annoying. Yes, they are all 100% correct. Yes, I'm probably gonna end up being one of those annoying people. No, I won't feel bad.

A section of a supermarket we were in where Coke, Fluff, and Pop Tarts were consider a'Taste of America'

Let me start by saying there are two things I generally didn't consume while in the US: 1. Coffee 2. Wine. Personally, I've lived my whole life around peoples annoying obsession with the caffeine addiction drink known as coffee. I've also never liked the fact that I needed to dump loads of sugar and creamer into a drink just to some what enjoy the taste. With that being said it's pretty average after your meal in Spain to end it with a cappuccino. Why? No clue. One of my many purposes in Madrid was to take myself out of my comfort zone and force myself to do and be different as I am trying to maximize what I get from this life abroad. So at the end of my lunch I had a cappuccino with one packet of sugar. It was delicious. Single handedly the very first cup of coffee I've drank that I actually walked away saying I enjoyed drinking it. Now this wasn't so good that I will start binge-syringe injecting myself with coffee two to three times a day like a lot of people I know but it definitely wont stop me from ordering it again while out with friends enjoying a meal and for those who know me well that's a pretty big deal. Now lets talk vino. Vino is one of those things that I drank not enjoying the taste because it got you tipsy/drunk (thanks college). It was never a drink I consumed with a meal or for real enjoyment purposes. The only types of vino I enjoyed were the desert types but to be honest I never felt like that counted. I couldn't tell you the different between the different types of red or white wine or which should be cold and which should be room temperature. All I knew is if I was at a bar it was either a beer or a mix drink in my hand. We stopped at three different places during the night for drinks and tapas. Each time ordering vino with our snacks. Each time I had vino blanco (white wine). Each time it was delicious. Similar to my cappuccino situation, there was a surprising shock of enjoyment when consuming it. Now, I would like to note that I'm in no way a bullshitter and that I call it 100% as I see it, I'm not saying that I'm enjoying these stuff more purely over the fact that I'm in Madrid and should be but more because it is honestly just the best I've had out of these categories so far. The vino smelled and tasted divine and for the first time multiple glasses of it didn't seem to ridiculous to me. 

Now in the states if you wanted to enjoy a glass of wine while out to dinner it would cost you around $8 - $15 (depending on how nice the wine was) Well most of the places we went to a glass of wine ended up costing us 1.75 euros which for those of you who don't know, is $2.27 in USD. Do you understand how ridiculous that is? An average appetizer and glass of wine in America can easily squeeze you out $20 without even getting to your meal yet. As someone who is living abroad on a budget until I land a job I have to say that so far this is working out well for me. 

Hablo poco espana (I speak little spanish) and my landlady who live in the apartment I live no hablo ingles (speaks no English). It is very difficult and nerve racking to hold a conversation with someone who has no idea what you're saying. Luckily with the google translate app (I highly highly recommend downloading this app), 4th grade spanish knowledge, and patience we have figured out a decent way to communicate with each other. As I came home late the night before, around 12:00am, I went with her to the kitchen as she cooked both of us an omelet. While she was cooking she would point to everything around the kitchen, including things inside the fridge, and tell me what the names were in Spanish which was super sweet of her. As challenging as it might be to live with someone who speak 0 english it will also be incredibly helpful in learning the language faster.

This is the gigantic omelet she made both of us filled with potato and onions. Muy muy delicioso!

This is Gran Via which is like the Time Square of Madrid. Lots of things to see and do!

Things to check out:

1. Museo Nacional del Prado
2. Tapas
3. Capuchino
4. Vino
5. Gran Via 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The First Day

No sleep till Madrid. Seriously though, seven hour flight and not a second of passing out. Went from 10:00pm in NJ to 12:30pm in Madrid which means I pretty much skipped a night of sleeping. Luckily when I landed and hopped into a cab on my way to my apartment with a cabby that spoke 0 English making my first experience in a foreign country start with ease (I don't speak Spanish at all).

My landlord wasn't at my apartment but her 18 year old daughter was and although she spoke broken English she was extremely helpful getting me setup along with helping me get a sim card, some outlet converters, and a basic understanding of the streets around my apartment.

So I thought of a great idea pre-move to bring an outlet splitter and buy a $50 2000 watt converter so instead of buying multiple converters. In theory this worked out well. In reality I shorted the splitter and every outlet in the apartment. Let me repeat 'I shorted the splitter and every outlet in the apartment'. Yep. That's me. Luckily it was nothing a flip of a breaker switch couldn't fix but the panic attack I was having before that problem was solved was severe.

Apparently the one month pass metro cards take two weeks to come in because all of Madrid is currently in the process of switching from paper passes to laminated which is kind of shitty for anyone who is currently moving to the country, like myself. Luckily, a little birdy told me about a Tobacco shop that will make one for you. Genius me decided it would be a good idea to get to this shop through the metro without my cell phone since it was dying. Leaving it to charge in my room I proceeded to get lost in the street of Centre Madrid for about two hours.. in 95 degree heat... on no sleep. Misery ensued.

When I finally got to the shop I noticed a humungous line out the door. Turns out everyone heard about this shop's deal and I ended up spending another two and half hours in the heat waiting on line to get my metro pass. In the end though it was worth the wait instead of wasting money for two weeks until it came in the mail.

I was told before my trip that English was common enough in this country that I could get by on a little Spanish knowledge at first for the first couple of weeks. After one day I can safely say this is isn't true. Almost no one here understands English and I have a very poor understanding of Spanish (a lot worse than I really imagined). It had become extremely stressful asking for directions or simple questions which makes me nervous about how the next couple weeks are going to pan out. Luckily I felt like I picked up a lot small phrases today that should help me.

If I can make it to 1 am there is a club today that is free because of opening day that I may have to check out but honestly all I can think about right now is sleep and then more sleep.

It has been a very stressful but productive first day. Hopefully, the next days will come easier. Pictures to come!

P.S. if there is no more blog posts after this first one it's because there are no fans in my apartment and I've drowned in my own pool of sweat. Enjoy that image.