Study Abroad: Week of 4/25
Welcome to the most important week of the study abroad semester so far! Why? This past Tuesday, I finally turned 21! Ok, so I exaggerated on the importance, but it was super fun.
Monday was one of the few sunny days in Madrid this week, so my roommate and I packed a small picnic and headed to Retiro Park after class. I started a new nonfiction book she lent me, Breath, all about how the way we breathe impacts our lives. I’m enjoying it so far and definitely much more aware of when I’m breathing out my nose. Afterwards, we prepped our dinners and left for my first ever Orange Theory class! I have to admit, I did enjoy being told exactly what to do to workout — in Spain nonetheless — and will be considering working out there in the states.
Tuesday was my birthday! I had prepared crepes the night before for breakfast, and, when I woke up, my roommates had decorated the table and set everything up (including my family tradition of making a trail to the table). We all enjoyed a delicious nutella crepe breakfast before it was time for school.
In my Spanish class, my friends all sang “Happy Birthday,” and I felt like I was back in elementary school. Afterwards, we all grabbed lunch together as usual out in the sun, and I got a special chocolate donut.
After lunch, I had an in-class presentation which my partner and I killed. It wasn’t super high stakes, but it felt good to be called perfect on my birthday (I do love some academic validation). At the end of the class, my Spanish friends (as in from Spain) also sang me “Happy Birthday,” and it was adorable. On my way home, I met my roommate at our metro station. I thought nothing of it until I walked into the apartment, and it was fully decked out with streamers and flowers and gifts! It was such an amazing surprise, and we had so much fun popping champagne and cutting the cake.
At this point, it was almost time for us to leave for the bar before dinner, and it was pouring down rain. Since it was my birthday, we were all dressing nicely and wearing heels, and that went just about as well as you would imagine in pouring rain on cobblestones. We did make it to the bar (Salmon Guru!) without any injuries, and we tried out some more of the fancy cocktails. Afterwards, we left for Bel Mondo, a fancy Italian place with whimsical decorations. The food was amazing, and the backgrounds were perfect for pictures!
Since I had my classy celebration Tuesday, Wednesday we went for trashy (not really but I like how it sounds). After class, some of my friends from my Spanish class, my roommates, and I left for El Chapandaz, the infamous milk bar I mentioned a few weeks ago, to get the true 21st experience. We ordered multiple different kinds of liter-large milk drinks and had fun drinking, dancing, and hanging out. One of my friends even earned a free t-shirt, but in a comical mistake, he was given a women’s small. He fit into it, but it was definitely meant for women. We ended up staying out much later than intended, until almost 4am, so I pretty much went right to sleep once I got home.
Given that everyone had been up drinking milk cocktails until three AM, Spanish class was somewhat empty that day. Luckily, it was a relaxing class where we taught our professor funny slang, and she taught us how to flirt in Spanish. Lunch was also entertaining as some people were still feeling the effects of the night before. My classes ended early, so I was lucky enough to catch a nap and recover.
The nap was also helpful because, early Friday morning, I caught the train to Malaga, a seaside town in the south of Spain. My friends were coming that night, so I had a few hours to myself to explore the historical center (I’ve been told I spend too long at historical sites for my companion’s taste). I explored the Gibralfaro and the Alcazaba, two historic sites dating back to the Phoenicians and the Islamic rule of Spain. There were structures existing from all periods designed to protect the town and help daily life.
I did fail a little bit in my mini solo trip as I completely forgot to bring any water, and it was boiling outside. Once I got over the dying thirst though, I had a great time. My friend arrived that night, and we left for a beachside dinner. Unfortunately, we misread the menu, and accidentally ordered a very expensive and not that good noodle and seafood dish. Oh well, at least the seafood itself was good.
Saturday morning started slowly with grocery shopping in preparation for the weekend. We packed up our food back at the Airbnb, and then headed straight to the beach. At 11AM, it was already hot out, so we wasted no time jumping into the water and swimming up and down. Because the water is so much saltier here, it was easy to float on my back, so I spent a solid half an hour just floating among the waves (probably scared some people watching into thinking I had died).
We ate our lunch around the middle of the day, and it was amazing — both because the sandwiches were delicious and because they were much cheaper than buying food. Around 6PM, we returned home to wash off the sand and then went right back out for a sunset catamaran cruise. Truly the life of luxury.
Sunday morning, we woke up bright and early to walk to the meeting point for our hike (pregaming the hike, one might say). We were hiking “El Caminito del Rey,” a previously dangerous hike fifty feet high along the wall of a gorge. We had to bus into the mountains to reach our start, but it was so, so worth it. The hike followed a gorgeous (pun intended) river and had use suspended over the canyon for about three miles. My poor friend is afraid of heights, so she was clinging to the end, but I had an amazing time looking down through the cracks in the trail and gripping my phone with inhuman strength.
After the hike, we still had half the day to swim and lounge on the beach. It was a chilly 80 degrees and humid, so it was the perfect weather to swim in. Once we were sufficiently toasted, we returned to our Airbnb to shower and make some frozen pizza (very classy). Unfortunately, we didn’t have an oven, so I had to use a paella pan on the stovetop to cook it with…moderate success. Of course, we still left afterwards for tapas and drinks, where I finally got my long-awaited piña colada. Then, we went straight to bed before midnight: perfect.
Clearly, this was all a perfect end to the week. That’s good, because I returned home to lots of work. Probably too much to justify going to Malaga this past week and Ibiza next week. Oh well, that’s a problem for me of next week (that’s a lie, I’m much too stressed a person to do that. It is a problem for me of all the time).