Excuse the pun…I thought it was quite clever.
I thought I would share some of my initial thoughts on living abroad for the first time. What surprised me the most was the way in which I absorbed what Madrid had to offer. Had I been a tourist or here on holiday, I most likely would have seen the main sights, devoured the cuisine and that would be it. As a local, there is so much more to it.
You adapt your entire way of life to a brand new culture and way of doing things. You constantly compare the differences between two cultures in the smallest things, like waiting in long lines for customer service. Suddenly, you need sheets and blankets to sleep in. You also need a new SIM card and a transport card – little things you used at home that did not initially require much effort.
The streets gradually become embedded in your brain. You develop ‘locals’, or certain places you love to go to for coffee or food or tapas (I certainly have a few ‘locals’ for my coffee). You get to know the good places and the not-so-good places. You become aware of the best places to buy clothes and shoes, as well as places where you can get good deals (Fun fact: The 2nd largest Primark is located in Madrid).
As a student, the life of the city appears to be extremely vibrant. You learn to figure out how to keep up with the fiestas and siestas (still learning!). You start to get to know yourself as an independent person – from how you like things done to understanding your likes, dislikes and values in life. Not only that, you also learn new things about yourself and develop new habits and opinions.
You develop a kind of relationship with a city that is different than that of a tourist, and also different than the relationship you have with your hometown. You are always learning. And THAT is the best part of becoming a local.
(Featured image: taken at Puerta de Sol during sunset)