January 26th, 2022 (Madrid) by Eli Larson

Good afternoon from Madrid! I am sitting in a local café near my dorm in a neighborhood outside of the city center, close to the metro station I use every day. After a few weeks have passed here in Madrid, I feel fully adjusted. One interesting situation I have stumbled into is befriending the café owner. About a week ago, I was looking for a place to get a cup of coffee before heading to class, and I walked into a place and began speaking my broken Spanish. The women behind the counter, named Lupe, spoke no English, and shouted down to her coworker to come up and help me. As she attempted to understand my Spanish, I struggled to understand her English. And as she told me her name “Mar, like the sea”, I was happy to have immersed myself deeper into a newfound situation. As the days went by, I brought some new friends into her coffee, and each time she helped us with our Spanish, making fun of our mispronounced words. One morning, I completed the eggs and said “Me gusta los jueves”, not knowing that jueves was Thursday and juevos meant eggs, and this has been a long running joke. Mar provides a familiar face to my mornings, as I created somewhere I can feel more at home in a place with so many cultural differences. Mar even has offered to help me with one of my projects in my studies that shows cultural differences. She invites my friends and I to get a drink with her at her bar often, selling us that she makes the best cocktails. Perhaps being so out of my comfort zone encourages the chance to be open to talking with people I would not normally talk to in the United States, and perhaps I will bring this habit back as it is exciting to hear about her family life and how she ended up in Madrid.

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