One thing I was most anxious about coming to Madrid was living arrangements. My university, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, has no on-campus dorms or apartments. All students that attend this university live in the city and commute to school.
Knowing this was very stressful for me. First of all, I am used to Oklahoma State where there are residential halls that are occupied by only students. In Madrid, I knew it might be more difficult to make friends considering my flat-mates would not necessarily be students. Secondly, I am only 19 years old and have NEVER had to pay rent. Thirdly (and possibly the most stressful and pathetic factor), I now have to learn to cook for myself.
I ended up booking my flat through SpotAHome.com. I was skeptical about coming to Madrid alone, staying in a hostel and frantically looking for a place to live when I got here. SpotAHome’s website serves as a platform for landlords from many cities in Europe to list their properties online. It was very user-friendly! Once I booked, I was re-directed to communicate with my landlord directly. Angélica (my landlord) was very responsive and made the renting process an easy experience. I must say that it was very comforting having a place to come to when I first arrived.
Now that I am all settled in, I have realized that I have lucked out BIG TIME.
I am living in a 6-bedroom flat with students from all over the world attending different universities in Madrid. Living with students is great because we are all on similar schedules. Living with international students is also great because we are all excited about exploring and trying new things. To be honest, I was somewhat fearing being thrown-in an apartment with a bunch of 65 year-old single males. (No offense to the 65 year-old males out there, but I don’t think y’all would have been thrilled to live with a 19 year-old female college student either.)
My flat-mates consist of Louisa and Sandra (21) from Canada, Ollie (22) from Finland, Jill (19) from the Netherlands and Christopher (22) from Australia. Even though I am not living with Spaniards, I am having the greatest time learning about many other cultures. We all speak English with each other in the flat, and are all starting to become great friends.
Our flat is on the second floor of the building. I have 3 keys, one to enter the building, one to the flat and one to my personal bedroom. The building has an ancient caged-elevator that fits no more than 2 people. We also have a doorman, who my landlord and flatmates refer to as “Tiny Bald Man.” He is a 4’10” middle-aged man that is always there to monitor the building and answer questions. He always tries to start-up conversation (in Spanish) as you mosey on through the building.
The location of our place is very exciting. We are in the city center, steps away from Puerta del Sol and Plaza Mayor. There are countless attractions such as Mercado de San Miguel and El Palacio Real (Royal Palace), clubs such as Kapital, and restaurants such as El Botin (oldest restaurant in the world) within walking distance.
I obtained a metro pass (only 20 Euros a month!) that allows me to use the underground and buses as much as I want. I have also made a few trips to the markets to buy groceries, but had to learn to not buy heavy things when I have to carry them a couple blocks home. This week I have been doing administrative activities such as groceries and a metro pass, but also taken the time to get comfortable with my new city. My days have consisted of meeting up with new friends, shopping, trying new restaurants, exploring the narrow streets and getting very very lost. I am having the time of my life!
Each day I have been trying to take a step back and soak-in all the chaos around me. I’m constantly amazed by the quick progress I have made in one short week. Aside from the jet-lag, “moving” to Spain has been a smooth sail. My rockin’ flat-mates, good friends, sweet landlord and Tiny Bald Man have definitely made this a very easy transition, and helped this place feel a lot like home.