Well, I have been here over 2 months now and my university life is in full swing, I thought this would be a good opportunity to share my thoughts.
From arriving in Madrid things have felt a little usual, I can only describe it as not feeling like a tourist but not like a local either. It is not a bad feeling, just strange but you do tend to look at things a little differently.
As a tourist you tend to be here with an inflated budget and a limited time schedule, you make your way around a list of the must things to see and wine and dine each meal time at the vast choice of café’s and restaurants the city has to offer.
As one of Madrid’s newest residence I have to take an alternate approach, I have not made a beeline for all the museums and art galleries, even though I have the time but have preferred to explore the lesser-known areas, the places frequented by the Madrileños and as a result have been treated to hidden shops, rooftops bars and tropical garden café’s. The downside to this exploration of the city is the cost. As an Erasmus student funds are limited and the need to budget accordingly is important. This has taken me down the adventurous route of supermarket shopping. It is tempting, whilst perambulating the narrow twisting ‘Calle’s’ to simply pull up a chair at the multitude of ubiquitous eateries and indulge in the tapas dishes on offer. However, such a luxury starts to get expensive with a meal normally costing between €10-€20 each time.
The ‘Supermercado’s’ are what you would expect in any big city, small and offering a limited choice with the larger outlets towards the outskirts and really only accessible by car, however, I was delighted to find an excellent place in my favourite store so far ‘El Corte Inglés’. More akin to John Lewis (perhaps not quite as upmarket but close) it has stores all around Madrid and like John Lewis is full of high-quality premium products. Also like John Lewis has Waitrose then El Corte Ingliés has its own supermarket and one that is stocked full of many of the brands we already know. It still retains its Spanish flavour though certain aspects are unique to the country.
So a couple of months in I am starting to find my routine, grocery shopping, cooking, taking out the rubbish. It’s really starting to feel like home.