As well as hugely improving my Spanish, learning so much during my internship and continually discovering more about myself, I have learnt a few very important lessons about living in Madrid, Spain:
- Work out key phrases you will need ASAP
- “Soy intolerante a la lactosa” : I’m intolerant to dairy
- “Estoy un poco perdida” : I’m a bit lost (I assure you, this one I have used a LOT)
- Finding a flat: It would be easy they said. Just find one when you’re out there they said. Um, no. Never again. Plan ahead. Especially if you are looking in sought-after areas.
- Walking is without a doubt the best way to explore a city.
- Do as many cultural events as possible. Galleries, museums, free events…
- Talk to EVERYONE – you can’t be shy. It will improve your language tenfold. I have made new friends in places I would never have thought: gym instructors, shop assistants, the list is endless.
- Make the most of every opportunity. Why not try new things? A salsa class, going to a Spanish theatre or maybe try that strange looking tapas which you can’t even pronounce… We generally regret the things we don’t do rather do.
- The Spanish are prone to shouting, so you’ll have to speak up.
- Cultural differences: I promise they are excited not angry. Cue man cursing elaborately in the street, arms flaring, reddened in the face.
- There are no measuring units here; Spanish drinks are very strong. Never, ever underestimate them.
- The need for a siesta. 9am – 7pm is a LONG working day.
- Spanish time is different to every other country’s time. Especially, referring to English punctuality.
- Toast here isn’t toast, it’s warm bread.
- Again, ‘hot drinks‘ aren’t hot. They are tepid. And, whats even more shocking is that they are preferred this way!
- If you are about to confront a group of elderly Spanish women on the pavement, they always have the right of way. Fact.
- Even if there are NO cars, the streets are deserted and there is not a soul in sight. The Spanish will still wait for the green man before crossing the road. Safety first, always.
Finally… Be careful not to fall in love too much. I never want to leave.