Ferrero & Friends

The day of…

¡Feliz día de acción de gracias! Happy Thanksgiving everyone! This is my very first Thanksgiving not spent with my family–is this that growing up thing Peter Pan feared so much? Thanksgiving in Madrid is definitely no Thanksgiving in New York, but I’m not complaining either (we had our first dust of snow of the season this morning!). When I woke up this morning I yelled, “It’s Thanksgiving!” but quickly felt an emptiness. Spanish stores and food markets have skipped right past to Christmas decorations and treats, so to pay homage I made myself a savory turkey wrap for lunch :p I also put up a little holiday decoration once the leaves started to fall!

Gobble gobble!

Gobble gobble!

When I returned to my room after a quick run to the supermarket, I found a really sweet surprise: a Ferrero Rocher gold, bow-topped box and a Kinder Sorpresa** sat neatly on my desk! My roommate, who was studying at her desk, had bought me the sweets as a Thanksgiving treat, knowing that I missed celebrating at home. Even though it was such a small, simple gift, I felt so happy. She also knew how much I wanted to try a Kinder Sorpresa before I left Spain. I gave my roommate a huge hug as she told me how she wanted to make the a little more special for me.

My roommate gave me a fancy box filled with Ferrero Rocher. I also got to eat my very first Kinder Sorpresa...yum!!

My roommate gave me a fancy box filled with Ferrero Rocher. I also got to eat my very first Kinder Sorpresa…yum!!


Although I know of a few international students gathering for potlucks tonight, Thanksgiving generally isn’t celebrated here in Spain…for a rather obvious reason (it’s a celebration of pilgrims’ emigration from Britain to the United States.) The Spanish articles that I’ve read about the holiday are primarily about Black Friday, the ways Americans celebrate the holiday., and President Obama sparing a turkey named “Popcorn.”

I wanted to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade online but I couldn't find one working link...but I did watch some of the NBC news leading up to it.

I wanted to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade online but I couldn’t find one working link…but I did watch some of the NBC news leading up to it.

The night of…

I went out to Sol with a few close friends [Thanksgiving night] and noticed that a few bars were offering special Thanksgiving menus (pumpkin cream, turkey, cranberry sauce, etc.) I didn’t go to any of these said bars, but I had a really nice night with three of my closest friends here. I felt really happy–even though I wasn’t celebrating the holiday with my family in New York, I was celebrating my time here in Madrid with these friends who’ve made this place a new home. Earlier in the day I was able to Skype with my mother, who showed me her lovely dinner table arrangement, and I got to see my cute dogs as well.

Being away from home this semester has led me to feel thankful not only on Thanksgiving day, but the entirety of my semester abroad. When you’re away from the comforts of home and are pressed to do much more than you’re used to on your own, you learn how to appreciate those things you had so easy. I’m thankful for having such a loving family and caring friends, thankful for coming from a country that is relatively very open to change, thankful for being able to receive a quality education, thankful for being able to spend almost five months in a completely different country…and my list can go on and on.

As I said, Thanksgiving in Spain is no Thanksgiving in the United States, but I had a wonderful day reflecting on the marvelous things I’ve been blessed to give, receive, share and experience.


**Kinder Sorpresa, otherwise known as  Kinder Surprise chocolate eggs, is illegal in the United States due to safety reasons; each Kinder Sorpresa has a toy inside, but the chocolate itself is really delicious.

Welcome to Madrid/Getafe, Spain

I’ve only been in Madrid for 5 days and it already seems like at least a month has gone by! I’ve been running around trying to get everything sorted out and settled before my official classes start on Tuesday, September 7th, and already there have been so many road blocks and new experiences and exciting people. I will try to condense everything so as not to bore you with pages and pages.

I want to start by describing the week before I left for Madrid and the first day I arrived just because I think the preparation before the storm is an important part of the study abroad process.

I’m not your traditional study abroad student. Most people chose to go to places that they’ve never lived in before. I chose to go back to my first home. I was born in Madrid and lived there with my parents and family until I was 6 and I’ve been living in Poughkeepsie ever since and visiting Madrid once every couple of years or so. To me this is an experiment. Since I was very young I always wondered who I would have become had I stayed in Madrid my whole life and now I have this amazing opportunity to live in Madrid for a year. Though I am fluent in Spanish and have family as a sort of safety net in Madrid, leaving the comfort of New York was no easy task. For the entire week before I left I was a complete nervous wreck, and the day of my flight I was so nervous I felt physically sick and couldn’t eat or sleep. It was a complete shock to me that I was so afraid of going back to a place that I have loved for years.

But going back to Madrid this time was completely different than it was when I was a kid. This time I was leaving my best friends, my boyfriend, my family, my town, my college, my bands, my life. And this time I would be in Madrid for a whole year which for the most part would be dedicated to studying economics at la Universidad Carlos III. It isn’t going to be a complete vacation!

When I landed in Madrid I was reintroduced to my old home as an adult. My first thoughts…. am I going to be able to find an apartment? How expensive will it be? How hard are the economics classes going to be in this university which is ranked on of the best for economics in Europe? I’m going to have to get a European phone! How am I going to get a bank account? etc, etc, etc….

So far I’ve succeeded in only one task…. getting a cell phone. But I’m well on my way to get everything else settled.

Since this exchange program between New Paltz and UC3M (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid) is completely new, there are no precedents. Thankfully, there are 3 other economics majors from New Paltz who are on the adventure with me and we’ve been helping each other out at every step.

Currently, I am sharing a hostel room with Jules while she, Madeline, and I look for an apartment. The fact that this hostel is absolutely beautiful and has the best shower I’ve ever been in (for only 21 euros a night per person) hasn’t been giving us to much incentive to hurry the apartment searching process. Although, it has been uncomfortable not having a fridge and not really being able to buy groceries. (The hostel name is Carlos III for those of you interested in visiting Getafe)

Since the university is in Getafe, a small city/town 20 minutes south of central Madrid we haven’t exactly decided whether we’d like to live in Getafe near the school or in central Madrid near el Parque Retiro, and all the famous museums, and night clubs. We’ve talked to some of the European exchange students in the ERASMUS program and most of them have opted to live in central Madrid. We’ll be seeing 3 apartments tomorrow: 1 in Getafe, and 2 in Madrid so hopefully we like at least one of those. There is a train that runs from Atocha in central Madrid to Getafe that takes about 25 minutes. By the way, if you’re wondering why we didn’t decide to live on campus… it costs almost $900 a month, while living in an apartment will give us a lot more space for less than half the price!

So although our economics classes don’t start until Tuesday, we started our Spanish language immersion program yesterday. It’s 4 hours a day of Spanish class for 2 weeks!!! It’s a bit intense but I really like my class and my teachers. I’m in the intermediate 2 class with all German speaking students. It’s pretty interesting hearing Spanish in a German accent. We have two teachers for the class and both of them are AWESOME! They only speak Spanish but they are really funny and very animated and passionate.

That’s probably the biggest difference I’ve noticed in Spaniards so far. They are all very animated when they speak and they all have similar intonations and hand movements. Some “Madrileños” can seem rude and harsh when you ask them for help, but a lot of the people I’ve met are really accommodating and will help you a lot. We met this guy Antonio at a rental agency in Getafe who was very charismatic and clearly was THE guy to know in town. As he was showing us around town people in the street would say hi to him and stop to talk. He was quite the charmer and very helpful. We also met a character in Plaza Mayor where we stopped one night for paella. He was our waiter and he called himself “Magic Luigi” and apparently teaches salsa classes in Madrid and has a record coming out. I’m not sure how much of it we believed, but he was funny nonetheless…

And then there’s the man who works at the front desk of the hostel who plays Spanish guitar and sings during his night shift! I brought my guitar so I’m thinking of joining him one night before we move out.

Anyway, I’m going to end my first blog on that note, and leave you with some pictures of the beautiful campus of UC3M. No offense to New Paltz, but it is definitely an upgrade :p

I’ll talk more about Spanish food and the culture that I observe on my next blog!