I’m lucky enough to get two spring breaks of sorts in Madrid. A short while ago it was Semana Santa here which is Holy Week, the week before Easter. We were off classes for a full week plus the Friday before and Monday after. I took full advantage of the break.
Volunteering is a great thing to do; everyone knows that. It’s not only good for the organization you help, but it’s also good for the volunteer. I help out at an organization called Fundación Balia. It’s an NGO that works generally with at risk youth and their families, or children in disadvantaged areas. I volunteer once a week at this school with the same group of children every week, and I think it’s a great establishment to help out with.
I teach English two days a week in Madrid. For one of my families, I have to travel to the suburbs. In order to get there, I have to take a different bus that takes me out of the city. I get to ride on the highway every Wednesday in and out of Madrid. It’s a wonderful time to reflect on things.
I feel like I can now call myself an official traveler, like I now have something to check off of my traveling to do list. To understand why, I need the person reading this to picture the scene from “Home Alone” where the family is sprinting through the airport to catch their plane. Now change that family to me and my two friends, and the airport to a train station in Italy.
Studying abroad for a year is more than just visiting a city and seeing all of the tourist parts. It’s about finding a niche, trying to make friends, and attempting a life. However, being here for an extended amount of time with classes, teaching, traveling, and everything else makes it’s easy to get stretched thin and lost in the day-to-day tasks. This can cause me to want to just relax and stay in, but then I feel as if I’m wasting my time here.
I was surprised by how much I fell in love with city life. It is very different from what I’m used to. I grew up in the suburbs, close to the country, but was constantly surrounded by nature. I love hiking, camping, and just relaxing under trees while studying. There are parks here in the city, beautiful parks, but it’s not exactly the same. I love the nightlife here, the beautiful buildings, the museums and restaurants, but sometimes I need a breath of fresh air.