Wednesday, September 7, 2011

It's the little things that remind you you're not at home.

Dear Readers,

I've been back in Madrid for about a week and a half now, and I'm settling into my new apartment well.  My roommates are great.  Everything regarding my whirlwind arrival here is starting to calm down.

Here's how you know things are getting back to normal:

1. You live somewhere with an address.
2. You go to ballet classes.
3. You bought some popcorn, and it's mostly gone already.

Here's how you know things are not normal and that you're away from home:

1. You can't figure out what the street signs mean.
Still trying to figure this one out.
2. You have to open the door to get in the elevator.
3. Your elevator says "piso tres."
The elevator arrives, then the inner doors open, then you have to open the outer door.
Btw, these are the elevators in my building.
4. Everyone but you is wearing tomato red pants.
5. The bottled drinks in the vending machines are upside down.
Ok, this photo is from Paris in 2009, but they're upside down in Madrid too.
6. You hang your clothes to dry on a clothesline (un tendedero) outside, and realize that if you drop them, they're really gone.  You also realize that the drier sheets you packed aren't going to be very useful.
7. Milk is sold in non-refrigerated boxes.  Pink boxes.  By the liter.
Bought a 1L box of milk at Condis.
8. Your shower head isn't attached to the wall, and you keep getting water everywhere.
9. You almost get tricked by the "free" bread basket at a restaurant.
10. You go grocery shopping three times in one week and eat things you normally wouldn't.
11. You think the price of apples per pound is cheap.  Then you realize it's in euros.  Then you realize it's not in pounds.  Then you have no idea how expensive the apples really are.
12. Dunkin Donuts becomes Dunkin Coffee.  They don't sell iced tea, but they do sell unusually vibrant-looking donuts.
13. Your ballet class is taught in a mix of French, Spanish, and English, and the French is easiest to understand.  Not kidding.

Yes, this list is comical, but it's also true.  It's the little, day-to-day things that make you realize you're away from home.  Not the glorious Spanish buildings, not the different language, not the lively, fun lifestyle, interrupted only by siestas.  It's the epic hunt for peanut butter, through four different mercados, that hits you and shouts, "Hey, welcome to Europe!  Why don't you try our food?"

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