For an entire year before moving to Madrid, I had been envisioning my future life in Spain: perpetually sipping on sangria while eating every tapa I can get my hands on. Stumbling down cobblestone streets and gazing at the gorgeous Spanish architecture at every turn. Speaking the language in no time because you just have to be “immersed” into the culture to become fluent.
A lot of this is half true, but there were a few aspects about life in Madrid I didn’t quite expect.
Note that I actually started writing this post about 3 months ago (which would have been after one month of living in Madrid. But you know. Laziness. Procrastination. Failure to follow through. Inability to finish pretty much anything, etc etc.)
Madrid Expectations and First Impressions
Expectation: There are delicious tapas everywhere. Literally everywhere.
Reality: Yep. It’s true. However, there’s pretty much a bar every 3 doors so there are a lot of average and not-so-good tapas as well.
Expectation: Sangria alldayerrrday.
Reality: One of their most popular beverages [when I first came here] is “tinto de verano” – which translates to red wine of summer. It’s basically just cheap red wine + sprite or soda water + lemon on ice. It’s delicious and refreshing and usually about €2 out. The boyfriend and I still make these drinks at home almost every night, despite it no longer being summer.
Expectation: I’ll learn Spanish and become fluent within a few months. Because I’m awesome.
Reality: Languages are hard. And you don’t just learn by osmosis or by merely being here. You have to put a lot of time and effort into it, even if you’re from California and think you’ll catch on quickly because you live 20 minutes from Mexico.
Expectation: Money will be reallyyyy tight. Living in expensive Europe + only making 1000 euros a month will probably equal me being broke as ****.
Reality: Madrid is surprisingly cheap (especially compared to other major cities in Europe). Rent is affordable and you can get a decent meal for under €10. Drinking is also fairly cheap. We’ve found plenty of good bottles of wine under €5 and a caña (small beer) at a bar is usually around €1.50.
Expectation: Oh God. I’m teaching teenagers again? They’re going to be awful.
Reality: Yeah. All teenagers suck. But they suck a little less than Korean teenagers at least.
Expectation: I’m going to live with Spaniards so I can practice Spanish all the time!
Reality: Eh…sharing an apartment? With a stranger? Yeah. I think I’m too old for this (AKA too anti-social for this)
Expectation: My piso is going to have a beautiful little Spanish balcony where I’ll have lots of succulents and herbs!
Expectation: I’m only working 16 hours a week so I’ll have plenty of time to blog!
Reality: (Well. I think this one’s pretty obvious.)
Expectation: Every night will be spent getting tapas and drinks out with friends.
Reality: I forgot I’m too old (read: antisocial) to make friends. Anybody out there wanna hang out? No? Anyone? Okay, I’ll stick to balcony drinks with the boyfriend.
Expectation: I will “siesta” (midday nap) every effing day. Because who wouldn’t want to participate in the daily country-wide nap time? I was seriously destined to live in Spain.
Reality: Oh right. Students – and therefore teachers – have that thing called school.
Expectation: Europe’s small enough to where I can travel somewhere new every weekend!
Reality: Not every weekend, but it is pretty easy to travel around and go somewhere completely different for just a couple days on the cheap. I spontaneously booked a weekend in Brussels a few days ago just because Ryan Air was having a sale. #lifeishard:P
Living here is amazing. There are so many things to see and do in Madrid plus a million other places in Europe to go. The teaching aspect could be better but it’s not bad by any means. The money isn’t exactly flowing, but we live comfortably. At the moment, we’re discussing our plans for next year and if we want to stay another year here or not. So stay tuned!
And a few more pictures to brag about this beautiful city I get to call home for a bit:)