I’ve been told time and time again that it rains only a handful of days during the summer here in Madrid. What did it do the first 3 days here? POURED. I’m going to look past that and say it’s not a sign because at least we were stuck in orientation the first 3 days.
The first week was jam packed with things to do. Day one dragged on forever because I refused to take a nap and I felt awful. (Highly recommended though, because I slept 10 hours that night and woke up free of jet lag.) On top of that, I was trying to get to know people, but honestly I think everyone was on the same page to make it a no judgment zone because we all were exhausted.
Orientation sessions were actually super helpful. They got a little repetitive at times because I’d spent the last 2 months reading up on Spain and being an auxiliar.* However, the CIEE leaders packed so many helpful tidbits and examples to help all of us little baby birds spread our wings.
Things covered in orientation:
- Cultural differences between the States and Spain
- Tips for teaching
- Accessing hospitals: emergency, non-emergency, and mental health
- Process for opening a bank account
- How to get a phone plan
- Advice for apartment searching
- Submitting documents to get our metro card
- Applying for our residency in Spain (the most helpful thing we did!!!)
We didn’t just do logistical stuff though!! Our orientation leaders took us out on the town and showed us some of the wonderful things Madrid has to offer. After our first morning of sessions, our group of 10 found a tapas place to eat, and then we wandered around the city. Eventually we made our way to a Flamenco show at Cardamono. We tasted a little vino tinto (red wine), gazpacho,** and of course bread.
The next day, I signed up for a tour of Northern Madrid because that’s where my school is located. I also eventually found an apartment in the Northeastish part of the city, but more on that in my next post. That evening, the program organized a Sideria. Delicious sidra (cider) and food all around. A Sideria is typical to Northern Spain, but we made an exception and it was soooo delicious!
Last, but not least, we went to Matadero, a slaughterhouse/restaurant/event space, where we ate lots of pinchos (little bites of food). This was my favorite dinner by far because it was incredibly delicious. Plut we’d made it through orientation so it was like our little send-off into becoming real people in Madrid.
Now it’s a month later, it hasn’t rained since orientation, and I’m finding myself settling in more each day.
*Assistant. Our official title is Auxiliar de conversacion y cultura = conversation and cultural assistant
**A soup that is made up of raw blended vegetables