~ Nada hay más surreal que la realidad ~
This morning my alarm came in the form of a crowd of protesters weaving their way across my street. It appeared to be more of a parade than a group of disgruntled citizens. Traffic was stopped as endless waves of people spoke their mind to whomever was close enough to hear it. There was no violence involved, they were only looking for their wants to be acknowledged. Even with their disapproval of the state of the banks, they remained polite, warm and sensible. I've now been in the great city of Madrid for four weeks and have found similar sensibilities across the board.
I'm from Durham, New Hampshire and have always dreamed of moving to a big city. I originally planned on going to Suffolk to begin studying international business but couldn't pass up the offer of studying in Madrid for my freshman year. Having just a basic understanding of Spanish, I was worried that I'd be lost among all the locals. I realized soon that my worries were unnecessary because most of the people here speak English. Even those that don't are incredibly accommodating and try and help you work through the language barrier.
I have come to terms with the fact I'm bound to make a huge amount of mistakes. Within a few weeks I have already managed to accidentally tell my wonderful host mom she's an "ugly dog", that I wish I wasn't wearing pants and thought one night that she said we were having parrots for dinner. Thankfully she's understanding about my translation issues and how I usually end up explaining things through a series of grunts and gestures.
Our trip to Salamanca was unbelievable as far as college orientations go. The beautiful town made me wish I had some talent in photography so I could do it justice. Since I never take pictures all the photos in this blog will be from my friends.
Photos by Reilly Dorr
The central feature of Salamanca was la Plaza Mayor. Almost always filled with people, it became even more lively at night. Students from the University of Salamanca would play traditional Spanish songs on guitars and sing at night, gathering enormous crowds. The most bold (or perhaps inebriated) would sing along with these Tunas. The bars right off the plaza were likewise filled, with a constant flood of locals walking in as strangers but staggering out as best friends.
During the day we took buses to nearby points of interest. We zip-lined, rode mountain bikes and explored an old Spanish town one day. In the next we rode horses and stepped into the ring with young bulls. The four day trip was a great initiation into the Spanish lifestyle and helped me settle into the new culture. It was great getting to know Salamanca but now I have the daunting task of discovering all that the huge city of Madrid has to offer. Wish me luck.