I’m currently sitting in my new room in my host family’s apartment, sweating profusely. Unfortunately for me, it is just as hot in Madrid as it is in D.C., but without the blessing of constant air conditioning. My slightly overheated state and desire for a fan sum up my feelings about the coming month pretty well: I’m embracing the uncomfortable and adjusting to the culture shock.
Anyone who has ever met me knows that I’m a person who enjoys having a rhythm. At Georgetown, I have established study spots, favorite restaurants, and the quickest routes to class to optimize sleep time. Even planning for study abroad happened in true type-A fashion. I have known that I wanted to study abroad in Madrid since high school and I didn’t even consider other options. I methodically researched the city, my classes, and potential weekend trips.
As helpful as planning is, it’s no substitute for reality. I still feel apprehensive about speaking Spanish, making the 40-minute commute to class, and my utter lack of fútbol knowledge. For all the things that I can plan for, there are many more that cannot be anticipated, only faced head on.
Thankfully, in the past two weeks, I haven’t had that much time to stress about study abroad. I have been traveling throughout Central Europe, which meant facing a different type of discomfort. For the most part, traveling to a city for a few days is something I am used to. It’s easy to get over the annoyances of sleeping on the floor of a Czech train or trying to figure out the exchange rate of Hungarian Forints when you know that the situation will pass in mere hours. Living in Madrid will give me the chance to really know and embrace a city, for the good and the bad.
I am excited for new challenges this semester and the somewhat unappealing opportunity to feel like a lost freshman at NSO again. Hopefully, I can do it with a little more grace and adaptability than I showed two years ago, gaining another new city to call home.