Hi everyone! – ¡Hola a todos!
My first week has been amazing, honestly it feels like it has been longer than a week! Maybe this is due to the jet lag, from Brooklyn, NY to Madrid, España there is a 6 hour difference, 6 hours ahead at that! My host family picked me up from the airport on Saturday, January 9th, 2015 and the boys I am caring for greeted with me hugs and kisses. The oldest brother recognised me instantly, it was so adorable!
My host family is super sweet! When I arrived they gave me a tour of their really NICE apartment and where my bedroom would be. We went for dinner shortly after I arrived, for dinner we went to a Japanese restaurant. Before I arrived, they had asked me what were my favourite foods, SUSHI was definitely on the list. It was an all you can eat deal as well, such delicious nigiri and more, I am ready to go back there already, LOL.
By the end of Saturday, I was able to unpack with ease thanks to my amazing travel packing list I utilised. I decorated my room with photo collages of friends and family 😀
This is the equivalency to their town hall, I hear it has a great view of the city from up top.
El Parque del Retiro
On Monday, I walked the two boys to their school with their father. It is about a 20 minute walk from where I am living. It is definitely city life, I don’t think that I expected it to be so much like Manhattan and Brooklyn combined. My host dad showed me the area around El Parque del Retiro, which is a big famous park in Madrid. We didn’t walk the entire park, but he showed me where many museums are that are also in the park and other places around the permiter. I cannot wait to go to these museums! I was so exhausted, we walked from 9:10am and did not arrive back home until 1:30pm. I was still disoriented from the jet lag, but I quickly went to get a sim card to have a Spain number, but all I wanted to was eat and sleep. After eating my lunch, I took a siesta because I felt horrible.
Walking around my new neighborhood in Madrid. The right hand photo was taken where there used to be an ice rink for the holidays, so it was super muddy!
El Parque del Retiro that I live so close to ❤
On Tuesday I met another Au Pair named Sarah from North Carolina, USA. We met at the neighbourhood of Sol and I took the metro (like a subway in NY) for the first time! The metro is much cleaner than a subway but it is very similar. I almost missed a stop using the metro because I did not realise you have to press the door button for the doors to open, haha! They definitely conserve more energy than in NYC with this mechanism. Sarah and I walked from this stop until we reached El Parque del Retiro and went to a nearby cafe for cafe y un bocadillo (sandwich). It was really great to meet a friend who was interested in traveling just as much as I wanted and was here as an pair with the same amount of time!!
Sarah and I in Ávila, Spain touring las Murallas Ávila
By the time Friday came around, my jet lag wore off and I am finally getting into the routine of dropping off the boys by 9 am picking them up by 5, etc. I wanted to share with you all that I noticed the teachers in the boy’s school all wear white coats, like lab coats as if they are doctors. I found this so interesting. I am guessing because it may be a semi-private school, which to my understanding are private schools, but the government helps pay the some of tuition until the students are 13. Another Au Pair also told me that her children’s teachers wear this same lab coat. Just from their uniform, it made me wonder if the teachers here were on a higher pedestal than teachers in the USA. By the weekend though, I met two teachers who teach English. One teaches in a pueblo (small town) outside of Madrid in a public high school and the other in a semi private middle school. They share with us that no, it is about equal and sometimes worse the way the parents treat the teachers. In addition, I learned that in the high school, the students had regulations or codes of conduct when it came to speaking about sexual matters as many schools in the US have. The schools hands out condoms to the students and the students curse freely without any reprimanding. This was such a culture shock since the teacher was from California, I too was so surprised. Although, the teacher who taught in the semi-private school shared that there are more regulations in her school, but it is still a shocking place. All in all, they love teaching there even though they do not wear lab coats and are thinking to sign a second year contract, so it can’t be that horrible right?
To continue, my first complete week was Saturday the 16th. Thanks to Sarah, I learned about a trip to the towns of Ávila and Salamanca, Spain. It was phenomenal, tiring, and unforgettable. We had tapas for 1,50 euros with a glass of wine in Ávila. I ended up having 3 tapas and two glasses of wine. My first two tapas were delicious, paella and carne. Wow, for so cheap, the food was to die for! Well the third tapa was actually not tasty, AT ALL. It was a dish called morcilla aka blood sausage. Never again, but hey at least I tried it. I still wish that place was in Madrid because the deal was just too amazing. In Salamanca we also chowed down after exploring the Cathedrals and the University at a restaurant. We ate patatas bravas, salchichas, and croquettes. The trip home was long, but I slept most of it and was so happy to reach home once I did.
Sarah’s carne and my paella, I was so hungry I began eating my tapa without taking a picture! Next time I will order the carne and paella together it was delicious!!
What can I say, I am loving Spain!! I even booked a 3 day trip for Lisbon and Porto, Portugal yesterday as well with the same travel group 😀 Tomorrow will be my first day of Spanish grammar class, I am quite nervous…xo
A view from atop of las Murallas Ávila
Sarah and I shortly after arriving in Ávila.