On the eve of my spring break, I feel quite happy to have experienced all that I have in the first part of my semester, and was inspired to write in a different style than that of my previous posts.
Things to be grateful for… In Madrid
1) Parque Retiro
Much like Central Park of New York City, Parque Retiro is plopped in the middle of the city, offering a tranquil refuge from metropolitan life. Here, one can walk, run, paddle in the lake, view a natural skyline of trees, encounter the park’s band of cats, or enjoy a picnic with friends on a lazy Sunday. The park is large enough that you find something new during every visit—I noticed a redwood transplanted from California for the first time today.
2) An early spring, with pink trees and sunlight until 9pm in early April
3) The most wonderful hummus of my favorite café here, Ciudad Invisible
4) Free access for students under age 26 to some of the most renowned museums in the world, including the Prado and the Reina Sofía
5) The lacy architecture of the business buildings and hotels in the center of the city
6) Excellent and efficient public transportation
7) The option to walk to most places within the city—Madrid is quite safe and not too sprawling.
8) The magicians in Puerta del Sol, including the floating people that refuse to explain how they float
9) Scores of street and subway musicians
10) Flamenco! I have been taking flamenco dance classes this semester—I love dancing to the soulful guitars, and that the body transforms into an instrument even more than in most dance styles
Regarding study abroad in general
11) The opportunity to live with and adopt a second family while learning about a different culture and way of life
12) Learning what you love and miss about where you come from
13) Dreams in a second language
14) The opportunity to learn about the core of yourself, as your roots are no longer under your feet
15) New friends from around the world
16) The opportunity to take classes not offered at your home university, which can lead to discovering a new fascinating subject or author
17) In many parts of the world (certainly Europe), the opportunity to quickly and cheaply travel to a different country and culture for spring break
18) Learning about your abroad country, your home country, and the world as a whole through a lens shaped by a different history than your own
19) New paths to walk
20) Being away from home long enough to realize that your mom is right—writing a list of gratitude is an excellent exercise to record one’s surroundings and to promote happiness