Aprovechar. What a great word. It means to make the most of and it has been the mantra of my time abroad. I strive to make the most of each day and take advantage of opportunities available to me. This week, marking my third abroad, provided me with unmatched experiences, sights and, as always, adventures. (There aren’t too many pictures, but I promise more are to come in the next post!)
Remembering the pleasure of last week’s afternoon in Retiro, I went back, but this time for urban exercise. Outfitted in running leggings, two shirts, a jacket, another jacket and an ear warmer, I was ready for my corrida. Admittedly, I underestimated the perimeter track distance of Retiro and the second jacket was a little excessive, but I when I finished my run, I had completed almost 2/13 of a maratón!
My current project of assimilating into the cultura of Madrid made tremendous strides when I toured and loved El Estadio Santiago Bernabéu. Ten days ago you asked me if I was a fan of soccer, the world’s favorite sport, I would have responded, “nope”. But the anti-soccer Kimberly is a woman of the past. After touring the impressive stadium built in 1947 and witnessing firsthand the century-old storied legacy of Real Madrid Club de Fútbol, I was hooked. You could feel a century of support for a team pouring out of every seat, wall and hallway.
We saw the stadium from every angle. We climbed to the top deck and saw all 81,044 seats . We toured the halls that celebrated Real Madrid’s countless wins, trophies and other shiny achievements whose significances I will never truly know. We watched goose bump-inducing highlight videos with incredibly fit (and handsome) athletes running across a field that I still believe to be too big. I didn’t recognize a single player in the footage, except for #7, but I was ready to leap out of my seat when I saw another goal scored. It was an unexpected sensation to feel an excitement for a sport I had so long thought I disliked. With my newfound love for Real Madrid coursing through my veins, I could barely contain myself when we toured the locker room and then emerged onto the field! When asked, I’ll now identify myself as a Real Madrid fan.
From sports to art, my week was well-rounded. My theatre class attended its first of five live performances of the semester. We went to Teatro Valle-Inclán to watch a production of La Ola. It told the story of a 1967 social experiment that took place in a California high school. The entire performance was in Spanish and my classmates and I were impressed that we followed the entire dialogue with ease.
Lastly, here are some quick takes that have all proved unexpectedly delightful:
First, I took the bus to school! It was a pleasant change to be above ground. I saw more of Madrid and noted some cafes and tiendas I’d like to visit.
Second, I popped by a nail salon one block from my apartment enjoyed a lovely conversation with Natalia, a 29-year-old manicurist from Colombia. Though I was there for no more than half an hour, I never expected that to be one of my most immersive Spanish conversations thus far. We conversed in Spanish the entire time and she helped me with my grammar. I guess I’ll just have to go back for more Spanish lessons, right?
Third, every night at dinner, Ashima and I watch the most amazing Spanish game show, Pasa Palabra. The reigning champion, Luis, a police officer, has won 23 consecutive episodes! It’s a fast-paced, word-based show about trivia, memory and strategy. I don’t think I’ve ever been this invested in an American game show! It baffles me that this show hasn’t made its way to the US.
It’s hard to believe that I did all of this while still going to class. I debate whether I should include more anecdotes on my class discussions and academics, but I don’t think you’re checking out this blog for that…This post doesn’t even touch on my three days in Granada as it would be too lengthy for one read, so check back soon for the latest on my weekend in Andalucía. In the meantime, please enjoy some photos as a preview!