It’s been a little over one month since I landed back in Madrid for the second part of my year abroad and it’s already been hectic and eventful. To say that I threw myself straight into the deep end would be an understatement. I arrived back in the evening of Sunday 6th January and it was a little over 24 hours before I was back at work and even less than 12 hours before I was away house-hunting around the city. In the weeks since I’ve done my fair share of Madrid sightseeing, partying, trying out new things, cutting out old things, booking trips and of course embarking on them. Within the space of approximately 72 hours of my arrival back in Spain I’d booked my Easter flights, viewed and decided on a new flat, returned to work, collected said flat’s keys and viewed and joined a gym. Productive with a capital P.
After a solid 3 months of living in my previous flat I’d decided that the time had come to move on. It’s a difficult transition to make from living with a good friend to living with two people you don’t know without actually moving yourself. It’s especially difficult when said people turn out out to be outrageously antisocial and boring. I’d always considered the possibility of a move after Lena‘s then pending departure, but I wasn’t entirely sure that a new start with new people (so soon) was what I wanted and there was no way I’d be able to afford a flat on my own. Enter: Ana. Some time in November my boss gave me the news that, finally, a replacement had been found for our no-show assistant. I was relieved to find out that I would no longer be the lone, young, foreign girl eating all the pastry in the staffroom at breakfast. I took it upon myself to contact Ana, primarily to make her feel welcome when she arrived and to help her in any way I could. Eventually we agreed that seeing as I was looking for a new place and she needed a place, period, that we should look for somewhere together. The rest is history.
When I originally arrived in Madrid back in September, another issue I had was that of free time – I had WAY too much of it. I initially combatted this problem by taking on three private English classes per week, after which I’d be so exhausted that I’d go home, watch TV and pass out in my bed. I’ve now become acclimatised to the cultural differences, especially those concerning time, and no longer feel the need to take 2 hours out of my day for cheeky siesta. I had ended up back at square one, located approximately a mile off the end of my tether. After about two weeks of wandering through No Man’s Land I stumbled across the most beautiful gym ever known to woman. Arsenal Madrid Femenino. A deluxe, five star, women only gym in the wealthy Lista/Goya district of Madrid. I just had to take a look around this place before shelling out a heart attack-inducing amount of cash each month to fund what can only be described as ‘love at first sight.’ The palace (as it can only be described) is situated over eight floors of stunning glass fronted architecture with such additional commodities as a restaurant, spa, beauty salon and rooftop swimming pool complete with sun terrace. HELLO. In a brief moment of insanity I decided that it would be a fantastic idea to join and it really was wonderful, even though short-lived. The place was heaven on earth and maintained this façade until around the three week mark when I realised that I don’t actually shit money. 149€ per month is extortion.
Nevertheless my whole ‘sort-your-life-out’/carpe diem mission stayed strong, despite quitting the gym, and I decided that I should start taking ballet classes to support and aid my ice skating. I only wish I’d discovered ballet as a young child and that my mum hadn’t shot down the requests of my 13 year-old self to start ballet with responses to the tune of ‘You’re too old for that now.’ Look who’s dancing now mother!
What I’m trying to say while casually side-stepping the whole ‘YOLO’ bullshit business, is that the year abroad will fly by way quicker than you could ever have imagined. I remember sitting in my AS French classes contemplating how I may spend the year abroad when the time finally arrives. Four years on and I’m laid in bed in my flat in Madrid wondering how the hell I got here. I’m just over half way through my time here and I don’t know where it’s gone. No matter how you spend it, make sure you make the most of your year. If you want to do something, do it. If you hate something, cut it out. Say yes, say no, do whatever the hell makes your year abroad the best it can be because come October you’ll be back in that university library crying over your dissertation.