Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Way I Live

Whaddup guys! Hope all of you are doin' work.  It's crazy to think that I've already been in Spain for 10 days.  Entonces, we just wrapped up orientation and start our classes tomorrow (completely forgot about the “study” part of study abroad this past week) I could write a more-or-less itinerary of my first week here in Madrid, but as promised, that is not happening. Instead, I’ve decided to take a more creative approach. However, keep in mind that regurgitation has its purpose (I.e. three posts from now when I’ve run out of creative ideas) So, I ask you dear reader, why not metaphorically compare my first ten days in Madrid to a YouTube video?! This naturally begs the question as to what video: which video expresses my own personal lifestyle to the highest degree? Which video conveys feelings I’d like to be associated with? In short, which video depicts the way this newly crowned Madrileno lives?! I’ll tell you which one:

“The Way I Live,” by Baby Boy Da Prince

(Use this video as a reference to my comparisons to Da Prince)

Baby Boy Da Prince and myself have many similarities (we both hail from the South, have sweet nicknames: Brown Magic and Da Prince, and we both like to stack our money, lay low, and chill) This metaphorical likeness between myself and Da Prince can most be seen in his video for the song “The Way I Live” Through fantastic cinematography and literary insight, the New Orleans native highlights multiple aspects of my life in Madrid. So, without further ado, thiiiiiiiiissss is the way I live….

The Old Guitarist (0:07 mark, amongst others) Probably my favorite part of the video. He sits there, roughly four feet from the Prince, playing one of the tastiest guitar licks in hip hop history. The only men cooler than this guy are the old men of Madrid. Seriously, they are the coolest men alive. They all look exactly the same, and rock some excellent clothing, whether it be a trench coat, suit, or the like, these old men have that experienced swag.
(I can only hope to have this much swag one day...)

Cool Architecture (0:13, 0:23, etc) While the video showcases some great buildings, it compares in no way to the cultural significance that is Madrid’s architecture. I can’t get enough of it. Every building looks like it has a story to tell. Especially the ones in my barrio, La Latina. La Latina is one of the oldest, most vibrant barrios in Madrid. Just walking down the street, I see new, historic architecture everyday. Walking the streets will definitely be one thing that I miss most when I leave Madrid.

Playin’ Dominos with the Homeboys (1:24, etc.) While the good people of the West Bank of ‘Nawlins like to play dominoes during their down time, the good people of Madrid love to chill at cafes and take siestas. While Starbucks has found a way into the city (I can honestly say that I‘ve been to Starbucks in Spain, twice, more than I have in the States, once), what define Madrid are the numerous corner cafes. Each café has it’s own complex style, and even though I do not drink coffee, I will definitely visit more of these cafes in the coming months. Side note: the differences between American and Spanish cafes in general are interesting (One, unlike establishments in Spartanburg, SC, cafes stay open past 10; in fact, some stay open for 24 hours. Also unlike American cafes or our country’s 42nd President around a young intern, waiters in Madrid don’t give you the Bill until you ask for it.) #BOOMROASTED

(Got 'em)
Party at the B-Ball Court (1:50, etc.) As cool as pounding fried cajun food with Baby Boy on a concrete basketball court would be, I had perhaps my best night so far in Madrid partying on the streets with local Spanish students from our university. Recently, drinking/partying in the streets of Madrid has been outlawed. So naturally, everyone does it now. They even have a term for it, it’s called Botellón. It’s ten times cheaper to buy a bottle of wine and post up in a plaza or on a street with your group and have a good ass time. The group of Spanish students we were with were awesome. They were really nice, and generally interested in getting to know us. CIEE definitely gets the nod for setting up this network of students for our benefit.

Rollin’ with his boys, Town Moe and D-Wizzle (2:34, etc) Rollin’ with the boys is what we men do, and luckily, I’ve found a bro to roll with in Madrid. My host is a 30 year old actor/bar owner, who is an absolute boss. I’ve even started calling him “The Godfather.” Life in my homestay is exactly how I’d prefer it, chill. My host will do such things as make me amazing dinners, correct my Spanish, and wear nothing but a trench coat around the house (Two truths and a lie, I’ll let you decide which is which. WoCo O-staff for the win)

Chillin’ in the Club (3:00, etc) Club life is definitely different in Madrid. Firstly, there are typical American clubs and then clubs dedicated to Flamenco dancing (Note on the flamenco: it is one sexual, concise, fluid, amazing dance. Watching two people flamenco is probably the hottest thing I’ve ever seen in person, and I saw Hermain Cain once) As for the American style clubs, lets consult the Prince and his crew. He and his friends are having a great time (3:29 is the guy having the best time, copying a classic Patel dance maneuver) drinking, dancing, and then preparing to leave the club around 2 to do things I probably can’t write about. In Madrid, you don’t arrive at the club until 2, you leave around 7 to eat breakfast before you go home to sleep. One time, I was leaving a club at 3:45 and grabbed my jacket from the coat check. The person in front of me was checking his coat in. I don’t know how they do it, but I’m desperately trying to figure it out.

While all of this is true, my life in Madrid is about to change. So far it’s been Camp CIEE, but soon I will have my own schedule. I start my classes and volunteer work this week, and heck, I might even take a flamenco class. So, indeed, this blog post may not represent my life at all in two weeks. Let’s wait and see.


P.S. If you haven't already, add me on Skype: vpatel72
P.P.S.  You would think the song for this post would be "The Way I Live," but it is not.  I've had the pleasure of reintroducing myself to my boy John Legend.  A great pianist, this is one of my favorite songs period.  So well written and well composed, I can't stop pushing repeat.  Here's him performing it live, give it a listen.  You won't be disappointed:

*Shoutout to muh boy Todd for this idea

Sunday, January 8, 2012


(In reference to the title of this post, my second favorite childrens book series behind Harry Potter)

By principle, I am not a blogger. One, I am extremely critical and doubtful about my writing and rarely like for anyone to read it. Two, my experience with blogs has left me believing them to be quite boring. Blogs are mundane, lengthy itineraries of things done (every detail about your life abroad is not needed, but usually included). Most blogs kill the magic of study abroad. They do not entice the reader to want to be there, to visit and experience. I’ve been guilty of reading blog posts and completely giving up because I found myself having to will myself to finish reading. However, due to constant badgering from my mother wanting to know what I’m up to in Spain (her main argument arises from my ongoing refusal to accept her friend request on Facebook, even though she has yet to actually send me a friend request. Smh, Ma), I have decided to try this whole blog thing out.

I’m going to try and take a different approach with my study abroad blog: I will describe some of the fantasy and magic of Madrid, but in the most simplistic way possible. My hope is that this forces you to imagine it for yourself, forces you to create your own image of Madrid (and possibly entice you want to come visit me?!). I will do my best to keep up with it (anyone who knows how short my attention span is understands how hard this could prove to be) and hopefully, make you want to keep reading.

With this being said, my flight to Madrid is two days from now, and I could not be more stoked. I expect Madrid to be a life-defining experience. I don’t know what to expect and couldn’t be happier about it. I fully anticipate this trip to be one of the best things to happen to me so far in life (only marginally better than that time they started showing Saved By The Bell re-runs on TBS in high school)

(What I would've done for Kelly Kapowski....)

Even with my preemptive giddy-ness, I admittedly haven’t done much research on Madrid (I mean, as little as one can before committing five months of their life to one place). As I alluded to before, I find research fails to communicate the feelings you’ll have once you experience the city for yourself. For example, I can tell you how unbearably hot South Carolina is during the summer, but you can’t really experience the scorching, oven-like aspect until you’re outside in Spartanburg at high noon, baking in the sun. I could research the typical touristy things in Madrid, the best barrios, or the best restaurants/bars, but certain aspects of the city; the feel, the smell, the energy, will remain a mystery until I get there.

Even though study abroad has the unfavorable side-effect of ripping me away from my family, friends, and college that I love for half a year, it will prove to be an experience worth commemorating, of this I am certain. Commemoration through this blog perhaps, a Facebook photo album, or maybe through a crazy couple hours visiting tapas bars, where my failed attempt to talk to a madrileña is, at best, the 5th most regretted action of the night.

My actual trip preparation resembles my research in that I’ve done very little of it. I really didn’t start packing and getting things together until today (we are roughly 48 hours from my flight). Before I leave, I still have to take care of some crucial things on my pre-departure checklist: send a few emails, finish packing another bag, download some movies to my laptop, and eat one last delicious Southern meal (not including one last, tearful trip to Bojangles) before I leave our great nation. Yeah, I know, my definition of “crucial” preparations seems a little skewed, but this blog has an unreliable narrator, so this should not surprise you. And as far as language preparation goes…I have not looked at, read, or heard any amount of Spanish since taking my 307 exam a month ago. So there’s that. I plan to post again once I’ve had enough experiences to write about; could be a tomorrow after an interesting flight, could be a week. Until then, hasta luego.


P.S. If you know me, you know my love for music.  With this being said, I've decided to give you guys an appropriate song for each blog post.

This entry's song comes from the beautiful Avett Brothers and describes my view on this upcoming semester: