Wabash Blogs Immersion 2008: Spain

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From Crawfordsville to Madrid - Day One

Victor Nava '10 - I didn’t really consider the difficulty about having to blog about my experience here in Madrid until just now. How do you possibly condense an entire day of adventures into 300 or 400 words which hopefully do enough to relay the same emotion I had when I experienced them? Be that as it may, I shall do my best to relay our day’s events, from my perspective any way, and inform you on what’s to come.

Our day began Friday around noon as we gathered around the front steps of the Chapel and crammed ourselves into two cars headed to the Indianapolis airport. Once there, we went through the usual procedure and, 15 hours later, arrived at Madrid International Airport.

There are some things I feel I just have to mention about this portion of the trip. The first and foremost is that the Euro is worth much more than the dollar. We had been advised about this since the first day of class when we first discussed Madrid but it never really hit me until I actually went up to the currency exchange agent in Madrid, gave her around 250 US dollars, and received less than 170 Euros back. I honestly felt like crying walking away from that agent with my meager amount of money in hand. Let’s hope I can make it through the week. 

The second thing I noticed is that airplane food is actually very good. I’ve never had an actual meal on a plane besides the usual coke and peanuts and found the food to be very interesting and filling. I know, this is random but I’m trying to establish the “curious mood” I felt throughout the trip. Short story, I thought many things were “interesting” on the way to Madrid.

Once here, it never really hit me that I was in a foreign country until I stepped out of the metro, which picked us up right at the airport, and stepped into the actual streets of Madrid. 

I was instantly blown away: the architecture, the music, the street performers, the smell, the Spanish signs, the hundreds of people swarming like ants everywhere; I knew that I was in for a new experience here. After a few minutes wondering around the streets of Madrid (while still carrying our luggage) we finally made it to our hostel and settled in for a brief nap. My room has an amazing view of the street in front of the building and the hostel itself is located just a few feet away from the Plaza Mayor in Madrid. I can’t even describe the feeling of being here and knowing that I have five more days of this still to come. It seems so unreal considering that just a few days ago I was sitting in Detchon Hall only imagining what it would be like to be in such a place. I though I had a vivid imagination but nothing could have prepared me for this.

After our brief naps, we were given free time to wander around Madrid for ourselves (in groups of two or more) and then took a tour as a group (guided by Dr. Gómez and Jaen-Portillo). The landscapes, building, and small shops were amazing. The people are so lively. The performers are amazing. The atmosphere is addicting. The experience itself is mesmerizing. 

I personally went with two other guys around Madrid and had churros and chocolate in a quiet, secluded Madrid street just minutes away from the busy center; a miniature oasis in a sea of commotion. I never thought I would be the kind to “sit and sip hot chocolate on the streets of Madrid,” but I guess I can cross that off the list.

We concluded the day by going out for tapas at a nearby restaurant and then being released for the day. Tomorrow we head off to the “birthplace” of Miguel Cervantes as well as go on more tours of Madrid and visit some of the famous art museums in town. I’m tired, yet excited. I would write more but I think I have already more than doubled the minimum requirement for the length of these blogs. You see, I said this was impossible to do in 300-400 words! As they say in Spain, buenas noches y los veo mañana.


First picture from top: The SPA 477 students board a van in front of the Wabash College chapel.

Second picture from top: The view from my room.

Third picture from top: Dr. Gomez instructs our class on where we will be going on our walking tour of Madrid.

Fourth picture from top: After a long day of traveling around Madrid, the class settles down for tapas at a local restaurant.