Well, a lot has happened since my last post, I have gone from comfort to almost destitution back to comfort. This Erasmus scheme offers to teach you multiple life skills, this is certainly true.
Tonight was the first night I felt I had acclimatised to Madrid, I got used to the constant heat and my lack of linguistic skills, I am finally starting to know my way around and I can negotiate my way through the Metro. I was beginning to feel more like a local than a tourist so it was unexpected that tonight someone tried to rob me! It was not a violent or aggressive robbery, but rather a couple of people tried to steal my wallet from the table by covering it with a map and taking it whilst pretending to ask for directions. I was lucky this time, I knew the scam and grabbed the persons arm and he took this as a sign to leave my wallet and exit. It taught me a lesson though and that was the need to be extra careful and always vigilant.
Although I am adjusting, thinking and planning takes more from you than you think, I was exhausted by 6 pm each day! This is a new culture, a new method and a whole new way of thinking. As a result, my brain needs a lot more down time than usual and I am happy to oblige.
Giving up alcohol and drinking numerous litres of water per day has kept me hydrated and allowed me adjust quicker. I am now ready to really experience Madrid!
I originally booked a hostel for 1 week and with the huge amount of properties available I was confident of finding a place, however, this proved trickier than I thought. I set about contacting people and ‘WhatsApp’ is invaluable here. Everyone I contacted spoke little to no English and as I did not know Spanish then communication became very difficult. By communicating through written messages, I was able to make use of Google translate and this really helped. Many of the first places I visited were disappointing, they did not match their descriptions but when I finally felt I had found a place and asked to take the room I was met with a wall of silence from the homeowners. I made attempts to get in touch but my emails and calls went unanswered so I was forced to move on. By now though I only had 2 days left in the hostel and homelessness was looming. I doubled my efforts to find somewhere to live and increased my rental budget; I contacted anywhere that looked reasonable and waited for replies. I got 2 and made appointments to see them. Before this, I managed to extend my stay at the hostel by 2 days but that was all they had.
By increasing my budget, I found the two places I viewed a much better prospect, the locations were superb and it came down to a choice of a massive room with twin balconies but no heating or air-conditioning and shared facilities with 5 other tenants and a smaller room with facilities shared with 2 others. I opted for the smaller space taking comfort over square footage and managed to arrange to move in on the day I had to check out of the hostel.
For me the key learning’s were not to panic, yes things were getting stressful and I did not know where I would be living but I got through it and I am now ready to enjoy Madrid.