Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Te Dejo Madrid.

I leave you Madrid.
As I pack my entire life in suitcases, I have been thinking about everything that I have experienced and learned this past year. When I arrived in Madrid I was a completely different person. I did not speak Spanish and I had never truly lived on my own. The places I visited, things I saw, and people I met have all taught me something different and made an impression on my life that will never be forgotten.

Here are the 3 most important lessons I learned this year:

1. Try new things.
Living in a different country, you are faced with new things every day. The language, the culture, the people, and most importantly, the food are all new and different. From the beginning I made a point to try everything at least once. Talking to random people at the bus stop in Spanish, eating dinner at midnight, staying out all night every night of the week, and trying ALL Spanish food. I ate everything from pigs ears, snails, anchovies, and something that was described to me as, "its tastes like breathing in fresh sea air" aka tastes like salt water.
Trying all these new things pushed me out of my comfort zone and taught me loads about myself and what I can truly accomplish.

2. Doing it on my own.
This was the first time in my life that I was truly living on my own. I had people who helped me with a lot of things, to whom I am very grateful, but most things I did on my own. I rented my first apartment, had my first real job, traveled around Europe, and lived everyday life in a different language and culture. I learned how to make it all work and most importantly how to survive. There were times where I didn't know anybody and was extremely homesick yet somehow figured out how to get over it and make myself happy. Doing things on your own may seem scary at first, but somehow you just have to make it work, and trust me, the reward is definitely worth it.

3. Cockroaches are not the end of the world.
The last couple of weeks in my apartment, we have had a bit of a cockroach infestation. The first time the cockroaches started crawling out of my cereal box, I freaked. But this isn't really about the cockroaches, its about just letting it go and taking a deep breath. I have always been a bit of an uptight person, and a year here in Spain has really helped me chill out. I realize that most things are not really a big deal, and getting worked up is a waste of time and energy. Everything will work out fine, just let it go.

That box of roach cereal - still haven't touched it since the "incident". Not exactly sure what to do with it...

So there you have it, the 3 most important lessons I have learned from this year, so far.
Now, as I head to the airport with my friend, I think about all the amazing experiences and people I have met this year that I will never forget.

Thank you to everyone who helped make this year the best year of my life!
Now I say goodbye to Madrid, knowing that I will be back someday.

un beso

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Ah! Only 2 weeks left!!!

Time is flying by.
I am already down to my last 2 weeks here in Madrid. That is crazy. I have been keeping busy, as usual, and having a blast.
First I was in Paris with my parents who were there for the end of the Tour de France. And since I love bike racing, and they love me, I went to meet them. We had 1 day of being tourists in Paris, and 1 day of Tour watching. The first day, we rode all around the city on bikes. Of course we had a blast, and only got caught in one rain storm! The highlight was defiantly cutting across who knows how many lanes of traffic to the Arc de Triomphe...very exhilarating. That was of course until the friendly police office told us bikes were not allowed in the center...so began the mad dash back. Overall the bikes were great fun. Although Paris was really cold. When I say really cold, that means it was comfortable for most, but since I am used to Madrid (35C is normal) - it was cold. The first time I was in Paris was in January. (now that was really cold). It was fun, but I defiantly liked it more the second time around - July is a lot better than January.

The next day was Tour time. It was great! the energy in the city, and all the people there made it a lot of fun. Of course, there was some working stuff that had to be done, but it wouldn't be a bike race for me without that part. 

Overall, Paris was a great time. It was really good to see my parents - and much easier to say, "bye, see you in 3 weeks"! I headed back to Madrid, this time with Dad in tow to show him where I have been living. We did all the normal touristy stuff, and I showed him the area of the city I live in, and all my favorite places. I have been telling my parents since about May that its hot here, but they obviously didn't believe me. I think now my Dad believes me. Dang, it was hot.

After Dad left, I had to go to Barcelona to work.  We drove to Barcelona, which is about a 6 hour drive. For me, as an American, a 6 hour drive is not really that far. But for Europeans, especially Spaniards, that is a HUGE road-trip. Needless to say, the 6 hour drive quickly turned into about an 8 hour trip because of all the stopping. If I were to take a 6 hour trip, I would probably stop once for a bathroom break and to get gas. We stopped 4 times! It was ridiculous. Anyways, we finally arrived, and worked a lot over the weekend. It was hard work. I have been to a lot of bike shows in my life - but had no idea what all went into one. Now I know - its hard work.

Also, because we were in Barcelona, where they speak Catalan which is not the same as Castellano Spanish, I could not understand anyone. I was like, "ok look, I know that you think because we are in "your" neighborhood, we should speak your language, but I am still working on Castellano, so give me a break. And anyways, you all also speak Castellano, so lets just make this a lot easier - and all speak that." Geez. It was...interesting.

That was what my weekend was filled with, and now I get to do it all over again here in Madrid! Bike show - round 2 - starts tomorrow. Yippee!

Last night I had dinner with Sooyoung and Susan. Sooyoung and I wanted to take Susan (program director) out for a thank you dinner. Without Susan, things would have been about 10,000X more difficult here. It was also Sooyoungs last dinner as she is leaving tomorrow, and wanted paella one last time. Oh paella, how I will miss you.

So as things are starting to wind down for me, I am feeling pretty anxious. I am excited to go home and see everyone, yet at the same time I don't want to leave Madrid...that is my dilemma.
Hopefully in the next 12 days I will figure out what I want, and get my mind wrapped around going back home, and packing. Oh jeez...packing.

Ciao! xxx