2016 Fall External Programs IES Abroad Richelle Kota Spain

Hallows Eve in Madrid 

Obviously, at the beginning of the week, it was Halloween! I was able to hang out with my friend, Kaitlin, who is also studying in Madrid and my friends from Majadahonda. It was very exciting to be able to experience these things with them. I couldn’t decide for a long time what I wanted to be on Halloween, but last minute my friend Anthony helped me be Solange’s new album cover! I felt happy to have a black woman who I could dress up as!

We were dancing and talking for so long that we forgot to even go to the Halloween event we had planned to go to! It was a mixing of my old friends and new friends all in one place— where I never thought all the lines in my  life would cross. We ended up going to Daniela’s family’s bar and having a bit of wine and talking to her family members.

Halloween is fairly new in Madrid as it is seen as more of an American holiday. In Spain they celebrate Dia de los Santos, which is similar to Dia de los Muertos in Mexico, but less of a party and more a day of remembrance. One of my host family members said they thought Spain and Latin America had a lot in common, but I don’t really think that is true. Although, I did notice with the celebration of these days, there are similarly based morals and points of reference. I was a huge fan of it as we got a day off from school because of it! I was able to sleep in a little and practice some self care by staying in bed and watching Gilmore Girls, but I also was able to get a lot of work done with Anthony and it made me feel at peace to be able to organize myself. It makes me feel less stressed and prepared to move on with the week and be able to center myself.

My homesickness is growing weaker as I start to break some patters of my stagnant routine in small, but beneficial ways. I especially find solace in being with the children whom I teach English. Being with them makes me incredibly happy and they are always so curious. This week I showed them a video of Philadelphia in a blizzard and their eyes glowed up! It doesn’t snow much in Madrid and they loved seeing my city where I live. They all told me they want to visit after that. As I was watching the video with the children, the teacher I work with— Claudia—turned to me and said, “I can tell in your eyes that you miss this place.” I felt so surprised that she could see that in my eyes from just watching a video. And she wasn’t wrong. I do miss Philadelphia and the way it looks in the snow, and how people take their shirts off of their back for other people, and waiting behind someone who doesn’t know how to use the token machine, but I also know that this is something I will one day look at and miss.

I am where I am now for a reason. And that is something I am starting to believe.

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