At long last I’ve arrived in Madrid! I’m staying in a suburb of the city called Tres Cantos with the families of two friends that I met four years ago when I did an exchange program in high school. I am really happy (as are my parents) to be staying with families instead of in a hotel. Not only is it safer and less expensive, it will also do wonders for my Spanish skills!
I forgot how difficult it is to speak and understand a foreign language while jet-lagged, but I’m trying my best. Hopefully tomorrow will be easier.
World Cup fever is rampant here; it seems like every single TV channel is covering the games, interviewing players, and making conjectures about Spain’s odds of winning the whole thing. Tomorrow night is the big game: Spain vs. Germany. Admittedly, I am not much of a soccer fan, but it is impossible not to be excited about tomorrow’s festivities.
Today has been a relatively quiet day. I ate breakfast when I got here and hung out with Sergio, the friend I am staying with, and his brother Miguel. Around 3 pm, after a long nap, we ate lunch. Eating schedules here are different from those back home. Here they eat a light breakfast of cookies or pastries and coffee with milk, a huge late lunch around 2 or 3, and a very late light dinner. Good thing I packed a month’s supply of granola bars! I tend to get hungry at all hours of the day so I have a feeling those will come in handy.
Well, less about my eating habits and more about my research: The purpose of my coming to Spain is to research how people with disabilities are viewed in Spanish society: how they are treated, what opportunities they have, what barriers they face.
My plan is to talk with young adults, both disabled and not, to gain a better understanding of their views of and experiences with disabilities. I am also scheduled to talk with several organizations including advocacy groups like Special Olympics and job placement agencies that work toward independent living for people with disabilities.
I have spent several months preparing interview questions, establishing contacts, and brushing up on the vocabulary I’ll need on this trip, so hopefully everything works out as planned. Here goes nothing!