Las primeras díasMadrid, Summer 2011

[caption id="attachment_26372" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="more botanical gardens"][/caption] It's only the second day, but it's been a whirlwind so far! Here's a little about what I've been up to: First, the apartment! Located in the "posh" neighborhood (as my RA put it) of Chamberi, my flat is far nicer and more spacious than I expected it would be. The ceilings are tall, the walls are white stucco, and the windows are narrow with thick, blurred glass, all lending themselves to the apartment's traditional Spanish vibe. I share an apartment with four other girls plus an RA, and between us, we share four bedrooms, a generous common room, a kitchen, two bathrooms, and an incredible view on our balcony. Here are some photos: [caption id="attachment_26360" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="the view from our balcony"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_26365" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="the common room (el cuarto común)"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_26366" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="the bedroom (el dormitorio)"][/caption] My first day in Madrid was a bit rocky. While phone shopping with one of my roommates, I opened a door onto my toenail, which promptly began to gush blood as it all but popped off. The up-side? I learned from my RA and other IES members shortly after the incident how to properly access health care in Madrid. Although slightly crippled, I was still able to enjoy my first night out with my roommates at Lateral, a delicious tapas place south of our flat. On the second day, we all met at the IES center to learn more about the program. I learned that I'd successfully enrolled in my top-choice class, Art in the Prado, and took a placement test to determine my level of Spanish speaking/writing for our grammar course. I met many of the other 40-some students, most of whom were from UNC Chapel Hill, UT Austin, or Yale. The center itself seems like a great place to hang out. There's a large pool, a workout room, a library, and a small cafe in addition to the five classrooms and the dormitories upstairs occupied by local students from La Universidad Complutense down the street. After the placement test and orientation, a couple students and I ventured out to Madrid's largest park, El Parque del Retiro to take advantage of the cloudless, 30-degree weather (celsius, of course!). The park reminded me of Central Park in terms of its size, but the interior was quite different. My favorite part was the botanical gardens, (I smelled them before I even spotted them!) which were filled with waist high rose, chrysanthemum, and other flower bushes arranged in a maze-like fashion. We ended the night with a late dinner around 9:30 back in my barrio, where we enjoyed a tapas plate of brie, apple slices, honey and pine nuts, and a pizza with tuna and vegetables (sounds weird- tasted awesome). I should probably get to sleep before my first day of classes tomorrow, but I'll post more soon! [caption id="attachment_26367" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="inside Parque de Retiro"][/caption]   [caption id="attachment_26368" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Andrew and Daniel at Parque del Retiro"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_26370" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="botanical gardens"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_26375" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="more from the botanical gardens"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_26376" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="miscellaneous apartments around the park"][/caption]
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