Why did you decide to come to Madrid for your study abroad?
I´ve known I wanted to study abroad for a really long time, In high school freshman year tried to like talk my mom into having me do like a rotary exchange for an entire year, she was like, “No, not at 15, you know”. And so, I have been like dying to study abroad since I started college and when I started looking – I also always wanted to speak a second language because I think it´s ridiculous that the United States doesn’t like encourage bilingualism, since so much of the rest of the world speaks like 2 to 5 languages.
So when I was trying to figure out where I wanted to study abroad I made myself a list of priorities: I want to be in a city, I want to be somewhere really interesting and really new, it would really be great if I could like come back fluent in Spanish. I brought that to an abroad advisor and she was like, “Would you like to do an internship program, in Spanish, in Madrid?” and I was like “Oh, yes I would like to do that!”.
Besides in high school, how else did you practice learning Spanish?
Before coming here, within the couple months before coming here, I did the like download Duolingo, make sure I know all the basic words, but before that outside of class I didn’t practice a ton. What´s always kept me interested is the fact that I’ve been working in restaurants and hotels for like 4 years and working in restaurants in Florida essentially means that you´re like always going to be working with a pretty large Spanish speaking population. So, I always had like friends in the kitchen and at work who spoke fluent Spanish and would always find out at some point that I was taking it in high school and they would try to like speak it to me and then I would just embarrass myself, cause I was like junior year of high school and couldn’t conjugate verbs and didn’t know what they were saying. But it always kept me really interested and challenged and I kind of wanted to be able to finally prove that I actually could speak this language and so I stuck with it.
What´s your favorite part about living in Madrid?
Oh man, this is maybe cliché and silly, but I just love the fact that every day I walk outside, I get to look around the city and be like holy shit I´m living in Europe, like I´m living in Spain. Everything is older than in my country.
I look around and the most beautiful architecture I´ve ever seen is just like a church to people here. I pointed one out with my host mom, like the first weekend. I was like, “What is that?” and she was like, “It´s a church…I don’t know, it´s where you go on Sundays.”
Is there something that you haven’t gotten used to?
The light switches are opposite which is super weird. But I think most of what feels weird to me at this point, is just like the way that people interact here, is still something I´m getting used to. Like my daily routine with my host mom, or how to speak to people in stores, it feels just slightly different enough than from the US. I haven’t quite perfected it. Especially to waiters in restaurants, because I´ve worked in them for so long in the US, I have like the way I interact with service staff. In the US I try to be like aggressively nice to them and not need anything and always I’m really gracious and grateful. Waiters look at me really weird when I try to be nice to them here, like they just come over and are like, “Dime”, and I´m like ¨Hi, how are you, how´s your day, do you have any recommendations, like what´s the vibe here?” And they´re just like “Tell me what you want, why do you want tap water?” People also don’t drink water here; I don’t understand how they are not like dying.