I’m writing this as I sit in my political science class…aula 5.1.02 en el campus Getafe de Universidad Carlos III…while more than 50 students and a very animated professor rip into my home country. In so few and so many Spanish words, they dismantle a system that I have spent the last few years of higher education attempting to study, memorize, understand. And here, halfway across the world, I learn more. It’s one thing to read lines in a textbook, to select the perfect answers in perfectly round bubbles on a white and blue sheet of perfectly rectangular paper. It’s another thing to be stranded in a political debate in which I can learn more in 5 minutes than in 5 years, to see how a foreign policy decision made by tight-faced American men is not just a newspaper title but can somehow, after twisting and weaving and squirming its way through all the murky liaisons of politics, tangibly affect the young Spanish girl with rose-colored glasses sitting next to me.
T - 10 hours until I'm hopping on a flight alone to Munich, where I will attempt to navigate this lovely city via their intricate metro system. Good thing German, in as much as I know, sounds like someone regurgitating a tissue. If I never post again, I probably drowned in beer or choked on a bratwurst. Wish me luck. Prost!!!
As I've tried to stay in touch with my friends and family all over the world, wether back in the states or studying abroad in some amazing country or other (shout out to my pals in France, Denmark, Scotland, Ireland, Italy, South Africa, Vietnam, Morocco, Australia... the list goes ON....) I've come to form a pretty overarching summary of my life. I know I haven't been writing much, but that's probably a good sign since I've been so busy away from my computer. And not busy in the way I'm used to being busy, what I can't help but call the "American busy," with multiple sports teams and clubs/societies and events and tedious homework assignments and a constantly ringing phone and constantly looming deadlines... this is the type of busy where I can wake up in the morning, (by morning I really mean a few hours after the sun has risen), and choose what I want to do for the day. The power to choose...until now I don't think I ever really knew how amazing that liberty is. Obviously, I still have classes to attend to, and a gym membership to get my money's worth of, and some responsibilities (such as making it home for dinner with my host family, 8:30PM sharp). But for the most part I have an endless list of things I want to do, not things I think I should do, and I'm actually able to just meander and decide based on what I'm feeling. Every day is a different hidden café, a different neighborhood to explore, a different park to sunbathe in, a different museum where I can spend my afternoon in awe. Every street is lined with restaurants and bars and stores, ranging from the tiniest dives (a dark basement bar decorated with graffiti, strewn with crumpled napkins used by locals chatting away in spanish, featuring a menu of cheap, ice-cold beer served with free rounds of tapas) to the most expansive and dazzling (7-story clubs with pounding music, hundreds of bodies dancing, luminescent bar counters being dutifully worked by glamorous bartenders pouring up exotic cocktails...) ... you get the idea. So here is a bulleted list of all things I can think of and semi-appropriately share to the public, to make it easier on myself and anyone that's curious about my life:
(1) My home-stay is awesome, it's a bit far from the center but the metro system and buses are really easy so getting around is a piece of cake. I'm in an expensive residential area north of the Salamanca district, which is the extremely swanky and high-end area of the city. It looks like a Spanish version of the nicest areas in Manhattan. The only real bad thing is I have to take cabs home from bars/clubs which is averaging around 8-10€ every night I go out... definitely tough on the wallet. I attempted to figure out the "búhos" aka night-bus system and probably will never try that again, it's a story for a different time, but basically I ended up half an hour outside the city AT THE AIRPORT wearing a clubbing dress and holding nothing but my cross-body purse (read: gum, lipgloss, phone, wallet).
(2) My host parents are both 65, so freaking cute, it's more like living with grandparents than parents. The dad, Joaquin, is literally the character from Up--the Pixar movie--with a funny mustache and huge glasses. The mom, Carmen, is such a sweetheart. She's a little society lady with all her friends from the pool and her friends from the university and her friends from this and that calling her at all hours of the day. They're both about 5 feet tall, which makes us look particularly strange when we walk down the streets together...