BEDA Orientation and Madrid Exploration

Beyond the luggage tabbacle, everything seems to be going pretty smoothly. By the way, this happened:

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My cute little european phone cord couldn’t handle the voltage in an extension cord :(. This baby popped straight in the air and sparked, scaring the bejeezus out of me! But like I said, everything is going smoothly!

After I finally got my suitcase from the airport, I walked around with friends in the Sol area, where we sat down at a cafe right next to Mercado San Miguel. I ate a “pincho de tortilla” which is a fancy way of saying, a portion of a spanish omelet. A spanish omelet is very different than an American omelet. It is almost like a pie, typically with potatoes cooked in. When you have a bad one, it’s pretty bad. But this one I had was FANTASTIC, especially being the first thing I had eaten in Spain.  A “pincho” is a type of tapa or snack that you can get to accompany whatever you are drinking.

Tortilla Española (not mine, just a visual)

After, we went and walked around the Mercado de San Miguel, which is pretty much the coolest place ever.

Mercado San Miguel, Madrid, Spain

(again, not mine. but that’s it!)

It is a glass surrounded market with stalls that range from ice cream, to seafood stalls, to cafes and tapas bars. You basically walk around and try little portions of different things. I LOVE this idea, because I really just want to try a little bit of everything! I’m very excited to take advantage of this place! Unfortunately due to jet lag and a queasy stomach, I refrained from eating the whole place to the ground..

After a few fellow jetlaggers went home,  a few brave souls went on to the next stop for a glass of wine. It was nice just chatting and getting to know people while sitting at a table out on the street, which seems to be the preferred choice for most Madrileños. I accept.

Finally, we retired back to the hostel, in anticipation for our first day of orientation the next morning.

BEDA Orientation

Day 1:

We took the Metro to stop Vinatero.  Unfortunately, I had not eaten very much since getting to Spain, so I literally almost passed out on the metro.. thank god for that kit-kat in my purse and friends with water bottles! As I said, things have gone completely smoothly.. We came out of the metro, and walked about 5-10 minutes to the address given for orientation, and followed our phone maps until we were there.

There were signs pointing us where to go when we got to the building. We signed in, were handed a folder full of tons of papers, and took a seat with probably 150 other assistants. Everything was pretty laid back. We were welcomed, told how to fill out about 15 different forms, then were excused for a break. The forms were to get our NIE, or our national identity number. We were also told we had to go get an “authorizacion de regreso” if we want to leave before getting our numbers, which is about 4-8 weeks. Something very good to know, because it takes about 2-3 hours to do!

There’s a few little cafes right next door, so we went and had tea (or most people’s favorite- cafe con leche) and a pincho. My favorite in the morning is Pan con tomate. The tomato comes puréed in a little glass, and you spread it onto bread. It’s fantastic!

After break, Samantha explained to us what to expect in the classroom, and basically what our duties are as an auxiliar, basically saying we aren’t the main teacher, and if they try to force us into doing that while they go get coffee to communicate and tell them no. We also get evaluations and we evaluate the school throughout the year! She said if we get a bad one it doesn’t get us kicked out, but we will sit down and figure out how to change what we are doing, which sounds like a great way to confront problems that may arise. She also tells us about our health insurance, gives us our card, and to try to stick to the private hospitals and doctors offices.

We had another break, which me and two other girls walked around the corner and found a little cafe that had pizza. First time I’ve ever eaten pizza with a fork and a knife.. but hey! It was a real meal, and my first of Spain!

Finally, we had to turn in all of the paperwork that we filled out. This sounds easy, but it was actually the longest part. No one had the correct amount of copies, so they did it there, and they will take a little bit out of our first paychecks.

We were also given a calendar book, which was really nice!

We were excused for the day after this. We went straight home and all took a huge siesta. After siesta time, we went out to a place called El Tigre, which this happened for 5 euros each:

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Order one drink, and you get pretty much as much tapas as you can eat.. YUM! We wondered around the Plaza for a bit then went on to sleep in preparation for day 2 orientation.

Day 2

So day 2 orientation was very different than day 1. We listened to a guy explain the Madrid school system for about 2 hours. He talked SO slow and it took much longer than it needed to. 2 guys were snoring behind me even haha. We also received our groupings and schedules for the Comillas classes. Since I have 24 hours, I was in the last group, who has class from 6:30 to 9:30 on specific FRIDAY nights. The group with 18 hours has class at 9:30-12:30.. so lucky, but then they also make less money, so it is give and take. This was to avoid conflicting with any school schedules I am guessing. Of course this is not ideal to me, being in class until 9:30 on a Friday, but it also means I am here making lots of money, plus it’s only a couple fridays here and there.

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Creepily taking photos in the back of the class

After being excused for break again, we came back and were given a test to see our level of spanish. (Hey! I thought I was done with tests!) It wasn’t too bad until I got to the end. The good news about this test is that if you test out of a certain level of Spanish, you test out of many, many of those friday classes. I am PRAYING I got it, but your level has to be extremely high, so my fingers will stay crossed!!

After we were done, we were excused! SO happy it was over, but it was great getting to see all of these people I only knew from facebook groups haha.

After Orientation, a few of us went to Retiro park and took a stroll around. That is the most gorgeous park ever! I LOVE the little lake. We stopped at a cafe right by the lake and had some lunch, and talked how everyone’s apartment search was going, or about our new host families. I don’t meet mine until tomorrow. It was just so nice out!

Gorgeous!

After lunch, I split off from the group and went to walk around the neighborhood I am going to be moving into, barrio Salamanca. It is just a hop skip and a jump away from retiro! Looks like I’ll be spending a lot of time here! I found a family who lives there, and In exchange for a room, meals, and 50 euro a week, I devote 2-3 hours from 6:30 to 9:30ish to talking and playing with the kids in english.  I hope it ends up being a good situation! I found the barrio to be very classy and upscale. everyone was dressed in designer clothes, and I definitely looked like a miss fit with my naturally blonde hair and a sun dress on! Time to go shopping :).

After walking around for awhile, I went back for a siesta.. I love those things! That night, me and the group of girls I’ve been hanging out with went to the neighborhood, La Latina to see the nightlife. That neighborhood is so alive at night! We got tapas and sangria, walked around, got some more drinks, then decided to see how the Madrileños partied and headed to a club. It was so fun!! We just danced and had a great time. We didn’t even check our watches, but when we did, we were SHOCKED to find out it was 5:30 am… Now I understand why Madrid never sleeps.. you’re having too much fun!

So that pretty much sums up life so far. We went to go watch the Olympic bid for 2020, which Madrid was a finalist, but before we got there, rumors had spread that Madrid was eliminated from the running :(. People looked so sad with their little red balloons I’m sure they were going to let go into the air if they won. Madrid could really use an event like this. their financial crisis was a drawback, but I think this could have jumpstarted their economic situation again. Hopefully they put in a bid for another big event soon.

Tomorrow I meet my host family. My host dad will be coming to pick me up from the hostel! Wish me luck!!

Well that’s all for now. Louisiana Nomad signing off.

OH… one more thing.. GEAUX TIGERS!!

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