A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: Madalina

Two months later...

sunny 38 °C

Wow, I cannot believe my internship is almost over! More than 2 months have passed by since I have been in Madrid. I guess that when you’re having fun and enjoying the summer time goes by way to fast.

I would like to start by mentioning that the end of June, and July so far have been interesting months. First, the Metro strike in Madrid (I think this says it all!) pretty much paralysed the city for 2 days. Second the end of the World Cup. Instead of talking about all the problems the subway strike caused, I would much rather say a few lines about, well the Champions of the world. Watching the final in Madrid, in Plaza de Colon was absolutely amazing and the experience was truly unique. There was so much joy and happiness (after such a suspenseful game) that words cannot explain. Most Spaniards celebrated the victory of the Spanish team well into the next day. And, speaking of the next day, I had the wonderful opportunity to see the Spanish football pass through the main streets in Madrid (Gran Via and Alcala), barely making it past the sea of people waiting to see and congratulate them. It was an unforgettable experience to have been here in Madrid during the World Cup!!!

How do we salute people here? Well, for women, it’s 2 kisses on the cheeks, whereas men shake hands. Most people are not that formal and they address each other using the “tu” form even if they’ve just met. Of course there are certain environments which tend to be more formal, but generally speaking Spaniards are very easy going. In terms of eating food, everything is the same, except for the food part. Although my cooking is certainly not the highlight, the food in Madrid is excellent and pretty cheap!!! I will miss the tapas and the extremely cheap wine that can be bought at the grocery store for 1 euro. Even doing grocery shopping is fun because there is a wide variety of products at prices much cheaper than Canada; and buying fruits and vegetables that are locally grown from my Moroccan friends just across the street from where I live is the best! They usually give me free herbs and always convince me to buy their cherries, which are cheap and super yummy ;p

And now for some serious business...Yes, I have forsaken my jeans and student worthy attire for a more professional look (however, casual Friday is on every week) This does not bother me though, it’s like playing dress up, especially because I know once school starts again it will be the usual once more. And I also enjoying working and being able to come home and not have to worry about finishing a big term paper for the next day... What a feeling!

Time for me to continue my adventures and enjoy the rest of my summer. Today, there is only a month left to my birthday and tomorrow I am going to see an amazing concert (Alejandro Fernandez, for those who know him) in Madrid. Not to mention that Friday I am bound for Rome... Exciting times are soon to come.

Hope everyone back home and across the world is having just as much fun as I am.

Posted by Madalina 12:41 Archived in Spain Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

A Month in Madrid

Some remarks and details about Madrid, my internship and the experience I have been having so far!

sunny 16 °C

Here I am as you all know, in Madrid, a city which shows the perfect combination of modernity and tradition.

I have been here for more than a month!!! I cannot believe how fast time has gone by; and truthfully I feel like it’s been more than that because I have gotten used to the city and all the experience of living here. What does it feel like? It’s really hard to explain with words, but awesome would be a good one. I feel like I am in my element and the transition from Mississauga to Madrid has been smooth and reinvigorating. I missed living in a city which is full of life and absolutely magnificent. As you can see from my pictures, it is truly a beautiful place, so definitely no complaints there.

Working at the Canadian Embassy so far has been a wonderful experience. I have been keeping busy and it is really great to see the inner workings of a Canadian mission abroad and learn how I can contribute. This really is a top professional experience because it makes think, put in practice my skills and all the knowledge I learned in the classroom. The working environment is really incredible; everyone has been welcoming and helpful. One thing I really enjoy is the fact that throughout the day everyone communicates in three languages: English, French and Spanish. I think this makes my workplace really unique and truly shows the importance of respect, acceptance and appreciation. I would say that, to a certain extent, this is multiculturalism in practice.

And that is a very brief summary of my first month in Madrid.

Now for some comparisons:

Traffic: I take public transport (subway and bus) so I can certainly tell you that the traffic on the subway is sometimes really heavy and I might have to take the next one due to lack of space ;p. However, I cannot complain because the metro system is well developed and you can virtually get from one end of Madrid to another without any problems. As for the car traffic, it is usually really busy; the biggest problem drivers in the city have is that they never wait for pedestrians to cross, and not only that, they get so close to the people crossing the streets that is looks at though they are ready to hit them over. Yeah, this needs to improve... quite a lot. And finally the streets are really busy in especially on the weekends and considering how small some of them are... you can imagine that not everyone has space on the sidewalk
Compared to Toronto I think traffic is better here because people have smaller cars, but they honk like no tomorrow . However, the good thing is that there is no smog and the air is certainly not as polluted which helps. Whoever said Madrid is a polluted city was wrong because so far I have had no problems of the sort. And it is really impressive to see how often the streets are cleaned and maintained.

Food: Food is not only good, it is also cheap. I never pay more than 5 euros to buy vegetables and fruits, locally grown. Definitely yummy! Of course tapas are really amazing, however some are better than others. There is a great variety of food that can be bought from the supermarket and it is definitely fresher and more tasteful. I think food is important. Most Spaniards eat really late in the evening and it is definitely important for them to have their time for lunch and for coffee break.

Observations: People are certainly friendly here. It’s great to walk down the street or even just entering the elevator and have someone say hi to you. I feel that everyone is more relaxed and they are enjoying life as much as they can. They walk slow, they take their time and they live stress free (cannot say the same about Toronto). Despite the major economic crisis, people still go out and enjoy themselves, something which I think is sometimes lacking in our society.

Well, this is it for now. More info coming soon about my trips and about how good I am feeling here. ¡Hasta luego!

Posted by Madalina 14:04 Archived in Spain Comments (2)

Madrid

Plaza Mayor, el Retiro, Sol, centro, Palacio Real, etc.. .

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Posted by Madalina 13:39 Comments (1)

A day in el Retiro

semi-overcast 16 °C

Today, Friday, I went to see a room close to the Parque del Retiro, the biggest and so far, the most beautiful park in Madrid. Absolutely wonderful and breathtaking, and I didn't even see the main parts of the park yet (coming soon, though). Walking around, I heard English, French, and Spanish, of course, and there were quite a few tourists, which made it easier to take pictures and not have everyone look at you as if you're from a different planet.
The weather was great too, until it started raining, so I had to cut my trip short, otherwise, I would've seen the rest of the park. Not to worry though, I haven't even been in Madrid for a week yet, so there is plenty of time left.
But enough of this... I will let you draw your opinions from the pictures (and remember this is just a small, tiny part of the park).
Enjoy and hope everyone has a good weekend.
Love,

Mada

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Posted by Madalina 15:19 Archived in Spain Tagged living_abroad Comments (2)

Visit at the embassy- Perfect timing

The internship at the embassy begins Monday :D

sunny 19 °C

Thursday I went to Canadian embassy for my orientation. I got to meet the other interns and almost all the employees, all of whom are definitely wonderful people. I was so excited to meet them all, but more excited to see what my tasks were and even better, I found out that people have actually been waiting for me to give me work. Pretty funny, but I am really glad I will have something to do when I begin on Monday.
However, by far the best part of my orientation was the visit of the Minister Peter Van Loan. From what I heard, visits from ministers are very rare; for some employees, as for me, it was the first time they had minister come from Canada. What a coincidence and perfect timing!!! Plus, the minister was pretty funny, so the reception they had prepared was really great.
I was not able to take pictures, but there was professional photographer who documented the whole reception so next week, hopefully I can see them, and maybe even post them (no promises, you'll just have to trust me, it was definitely exciting).
What more can I really ask for? I will spend the next three months of my summer working with great professionals and hopefully, contributing to some great projects from which I can learn and, as boring as it sounds, put in practice what I have learned.
I will take some pictures next week of the embassy, because as you can imagine, it was my first visit and first impressions count.
What else can I say??? ¡A trabajar se ha dicho!

Posted by Madalina 15:04 Archived in Spain Tagged events Comments (0)

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