My Erasmus Experience – Post #2 – First Week In Madrid

I’ve never liked the idea of flying. There’s something about being in a giant metal box being propelled by explosions at 500mph over the sea that just doesn’t sit well. The flight didn’t last long, we departed from Luton airport at half 1 and it took us about 2 hours to get to Spain. The leg room on EasyJet is terrible, but that’s the price you pay for cheap air travel! I enjoyed watching the view from the window, seeing gloomy England shrink fall away beneath me and disappear into the clouds. I can’t remember what time we landed, I was too excited/nervous/terrified/confused to really remember anything. I felt the plane touch down and watched as we taxied across the runway, seeing billboards and signposts written in Spanish all over. It terrified me. I had no idea what to expect from this country, seeing as I had only been abroad a few times before and only once on a plane. It was a completely new experience for me, and I immediately felt out of my comfort zone. I suppressed the fear and moved off the plane, being instantly hit by the 35 degree air inside the walkway. I was sweating already, and I’d only been outside for a few seconds. How was I going to survive?

We’d booked a hostel beforehand, which was now our next task. To navigate the labyrinth that is the Madridian metro service. The transport in Madrid has recently been given a major overhaul, with a lot of public money being spent on infrastructure and travel for the masses. We piled onto the metro which conveniently came right to the airport door, each with two heavy bags to our name and no real clue where we were going. We’d managed to obtain a metro map from the only person in Spain that spoke English (Another culture shock, being ignorant English people), and had found a route to our hostel using the map id printed off and free GPS apps on our phones. The metro was hot and smelly, packed with people who stared at us as if we’d hopped into that carriage just to annoy them.

We eventually arrived at our station and disembarked, climbing the stairs to receive our first dose of vitamin D since we left the plane. I remember seeing a tall apartment building at the entrance to the station, looming over me as if waiting for us to emerge. It was painted a muted pink colour, and had bay windows and small balconies, each with either a potted plant or a chair of some kind. It was like something out of a painting. There was that heat again, by now it was around 6pm but was still above 30. The noise of the people and traffic completed the scene, we were finally here. We walked to the hostel, checked in and dropped our things off. We immediately headed out again and after a few hours of exploring found an authentic tapas bar near Plaza Mayor. We had tapas and sangria on our first night in Madrid, not knowing what lay ahead of us.

I was excited but anxious, ready to face the next week which would be one of the best and worst weeks of my life.

The image is titled ‘The View’, and was shot from the balcony of our room in the hostel.

The View