Living in Madrid allowed me to fall prey to bizarre Spanish customs and traditions. For any of you lovely readers thinking about moving to or studying there, DO IT.
To explain their lifestyle simply, take my timetable from last year at an English university, move every activity 3 hours later and voila you’ve got Madrid life down to a tee. I would stumble along to my 9am lecture on time, with the ever so english expectation of it starting at 9am on the dot. However I mostly spent at least half an hour waiting outside the classroom for the teacher to actually turn up! None of the other students seemed to bat an eyelid and they too stroll into class when the teacher eventually arrived. This relaxed attitude is very much the way of life here, which actually worked wonders for me, except for when it came to sorting out Erasmus paperwork or waiting for a response to an email. Lunch was usually around 2.30pm, or in my case 3ish, as that is when my flatmate would get home from Uni. I slowly adapted to this dramatic change in eating habits, ignoring my stomach cramps at midday, or in most cases grabbing a merienda so I could survive! Dinner (as you guessed) was also later, and by later I mean bedtime. If you wander through town in the early evening everything appears to be quiet and pretty empty until BAM its 11pm and suddenly the whole city is out wining and dining.
A night out in Madrid borders on the ridiculous when compared to England. Ridiculous… but oh so fun! For the Spanish, a night out literally means an entire night out. If you don’t come home past 6am, still busting those reggaeton inspired dance moves, on the first metro alongside some less than impressed morning commuters, then it has probably been a dull evening. Pre-drinks, or “copas”, would never be earlier than midnight and turning up to “la discoteca” (yes, that is what they call it) before 2am is considered almost a crime. Of course keeping up with their timetable was one thing, but their dancing…was incredible. Let’s put it this way, the majority of my girlfriends could have easily been in Beyonce’s new music video. My lack of sass on the dance floor made it extremely obvious that I was the foreigner of the group. Coping with the morning hangovers, especially with early class during the week, was not so fun.However, thank the lord that a siesta really is an accustomed day-to-day activity. This, without a doubt, was my lifeline. Why had I never napped before!?
The best thing, without a doubt, about Spain was the food. In particular the fact that when you ordered a drink at a bar, free food would magically appear. The tapas scene is something all UK bars should learn from. I loved it so much it got to the point where a) I was drinking way more just so they would keep bringing me food and b) if I received a drink and no tapas arrived, I became horrendously offended and left immediately. Hit me up if you are in search of a tapas bar in Madrid, my knowledge of all the generous tapas bars is unparalleled!
Madrid really is a crazy exciting city and I highly recommend living there. In between fiestas, tapas and not enough sleep you will have the time of your life!
To whet your appetite here is quite a well known reggaeton classic. You may have heard it: