Ashley in Madrid

Ashley is a junior majoring in Spanish and psychology in Dedman College and an SMU Distinguished Scholar. During 2011-12 she is participating in SMU-in-Spain. She is eager to improve her Spanish, to get to know other students in the program and to explore Madrid and the rest of Europe.

My second semester in Spain

Wow, sorry for disappearing. It’s not that I haven’t had any free time to do this in the past month and a half, it’s just that I’ve been filling said free time with other things. Here we go: OK, so winter break was lovely! I had the first few days of the break to myself after my friends from last semester departed and spent them relaxing and enjoying alone time with Carmen. Then my mom arrived in Madrid!!!!! I went to the airport to pick her up on the morning of December 21, and it was SO great to see her! Our first stop was Mercado San Miguel, which she loved, obviously. Delicious tapas and pintxos, and a great atmosphere. [...]

2012-02-21T21:21:21+00:00 February 21st, 2012|Ashley in Madrid|

A month of travels

On the first Friday of the month, our group visited the Congreso de los Diputados, the lower house of Spain’s legislative branch, and the Reina Sofía, a modern art museum, where we saw Picasso’s Guernica, so that was enjoyable. Then that night three of my friends from SMU who are studying elsewhere in Europe came to Madrid to visit, and I had a great time showing them around the city the next day! In my everyday life, I don’t live like a tourist here, so it was good to explore new places and visit some of the tourist spots that I haven’t been to since I first got here. We went to the Plaza Mayor, Puerta del Sol, the Palacio [...]

2011-12-06T23:24:06+00:00 December 6th, 2011|Ashley in Madrid|

Coldplay, Ireland and the longest day

There have been a couple of days recently where I've felt really good about my Spanish: I've been able to communicate what I want to without major difficulties. Of course, my frustrations with the language, which are daily, still outweigh my successes. But I'm making progress, slowly but surely. And I am absolutely falling in love with Spanish! Last week I received an excellent package from my family, full of my favorite snacks, and pictures, and sweet notes. It was probably the best package ever. They also sent me my tennis shoes so I’ve gotten to go on a couple of runs in Madrid! The weather has been basically continuously cold and rainy this week. I tried to buy rainboots [...]

2011-11-08T23:40:53+00:00 November 5th, 2011|Ashley in Madrid|

At home in Madrid

I’ve been enjoying spending time home in Madrid since our return from Andalucía. On the Monday after we got back, I went to a local public high school, where I’m going to be volunteering as an assistant with English classes, to meet with the professors and figure out my schedule. They learn British English here, so I was amused to hear that these Spanish English professors speak English with a British accent! I guess it’s the same as if a person from Mexico heard me speaking Spain Spanish, but it’s funny nonetheless. The following day, Tuesday, I went and helped with my first two classes! I basically just did whatever the teachers asked me to do, which was [...]

2011-10-24T22:15:18+00:00 October 24th, 2011|Ashley in Madrid|

Exploring the south of Spain

Last week our whole group took a school trip to Andalucía, Spain’s southernmost autonomous community, a few hours from Madrid. It was a great week of learning outside of the classroom, with lots of tours and free time for exploring on our own. On Tuesday morning we loaded onto our charter bus (quite spacious for the 13 of us) with two professors and headed off for Córdoba. Once there we were dismissed to roam around and eat lunch for a couple of hours, and when we all met back up again we toured the Mezquita-Catedral, which was constructed in the 8th to 11th centuries by all the different Moorish rulers of Spain. After Spain was reconquered by Christians [...]

2011-10-21T15:59:38+00:00 October 21st, 2011|Ashley in Madrid|

Trip to Portugal

Yesterday I got back from a weekend in Porto, Portugal, which is in the northern part of the Iberian Peninsula. It’s not that big, so it’s not exactly overflowing with things to do, but it is very pretty and we had a good time there. With this weekend came exposure to another new language. Portuguese is similar to Spanish in some ways, and Catalan in others, because it was also influenced by French. Seeing signs in Portuguese and hearing people speaking it (so crazy sounding!) made me wish that I could speak every language in the world. I am seriously so fascinated by them. Also with this new city came a new public transportation system, and I am [...]

2011-10-11T22:45:35+00:00 October 11th, 2011|Ashley in Madrid|

Great weekend in Barcelona

This past weekend two friends and I went to Barcelona and had an absolutely amazing time. Barcelona is on the east coast of Spain, a little bit farther north than Madrid. It took us about an hour to get there by plane. The first accomplishment of the weekend was our mastery of a new city’s public transportation system. We got from the airport into the heart of Barcelona for basically nothing by taking a bus and the Metro, and successfully zipped around the city for the rest of the weekend on the Metro. This was the first trip I’ve ever been on without parents or other adults to plan everything and navigate the city for me, so that was [...]

2011-10-04T16:23:58+00:00 October 4th, 2011|Ashley in Madrid|

Touring Segovia and random observations

Last Friday our group took a trip to Segovia, which is a little more than an hour north of Madrid. On our way there, we played some charades on the bus, which was more than entertaining. The first thing we saw there was El Palacio Real de La Granja de San Ildefonso, a palace where the royal family still sometimes stays. The palace gardens were absolutely beautiful. Next we headed to Segovia’s aqueducts, which were constructed almost 2,000 years ago by the Romans, and they still work today! After that we checked out a couple churches and had our lunch break. During lunch we sampled some authentic Segovian desserts - ponche segoviano (yum) and leche frita (not yum). [...]

2011-09-27T15:09:17+00:00 September 27th, 2011|Ashley in Madrid|

Parks, shops, restaurants and more

I am happy to report that both of my wishes for last weekend were fulfilled! On Saturday afternoon, I embarked on my first trip to Parque del Retiro for some homework-doing and grass-lounging. The park is MASSIVE. I took a walk through it for about 30 minutes, and I had probably only scratched the surface. We’ll see if I’m ever able to explore  the whole thing! And on Sunday we went to El Rastro, the open market. It was insane: street after winding street closed to cars, packed full of people and stalls selling everything under the sun. I didn’t bring my camera, but all of those people on every street were a sight to see. We wandered [...]

2011-09-20T15:58:48+00:00 September 20th, 2011|Ashley in Madrid|

Feeling more at home

This week I’ve been hanging out with some half-Spanish/half-American people, and that has left me with an overwhelming feeling of jealousy. They. Are. So. Cool. They’ve grown up in both places, they speak English and Spanish (and more) perfectly, they know how to live/survive/thrive in both countries, and I just basically want to be them. These people are the friends of my friends and I’ve been loving getting to form relationships with them so that I can hopefully continue to hang out with them over winter break and next semester, when the group of SMU students that is here with me now will be back in Texas. In other news, I love the Metro! It’s so efficient and [...]

2011-09-15T19:51:40+00:00 September 15th, 2011|Ashley in Madrid|
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