New blog address: www.momsdiary.de

Please check out my new homepage http://www.momsdiary.de 🙂

My future content would only be posted in the new address. I hope to see you there!

Love,

Andina

Advertisements

Mommy on trip: Traveling With A Newborn – Baby Winter Essentials

Some friends have been asking, what we had for our baby when we were traveling in winter.. In this post, I’d like to share our first winter travel experience 🙂

Our first trip after the birth of Aurélie was Walchensee, which is a natural lake south of Munich. At that time Aurélie just turned 8 weeks old. Winter striked in a full force at that time, but we didn’t just want to stay home nevertheless. As Clemens always said to me, „there is no such thing as bad weather.. there is merely bad clothing“.. Yeah, sometimes my German husband doesn’t really have the understanding for my indonesian warm blood 😀 Luckily Aurélie is a winter baby and she loves being in the cold..

Why did we choose Walchensee? Because of its location, it is a good starter for parents-newbies like us. The Autobahn (A9) directing there is usually free, since it has 3 lanes and it has a lot of nice pit stops, in case of milk-time 🙂 By good traffic, we would only need around 2 hours, which is also a maximal duration for our baby to sit in her Maxi Cosi. If we were lucky and baby would sleep through, we could actually drive through directly to our accommodation.

We chose a trip by car, because honestly I was a bit nervous about traveling by train or flight for our first time. We would be more flexible by car and for the first trip, we didn’t really know how much we actually needed. What is really necessary for a travel? Of course we (better said: I) read a lot of books and watched zillion travel videos with babies, just so I could approximate the basic obligatory necessities. But it was winter, where the temperature was below zero, so the basic necessities were already double the normal standard.. And then each baby has their own unique personality and needs of how they need to be stimulated (meaning: how many toys do we need to drag with us??). Aurélie has been a very active baby since day one and she gets bored very easily, so we need to keep her busy and change her activity every half an hour or so. Although we already knew then, that the best thing for her was staying outside or sitting in a restaurant/cafe, where she could observe people.

For our accommodation, we chose a very beautiful apartment (Ferienhaus Gistl am See) with one bedroom directly by the lake. We deliberately chose an apartment and not a hotel, because we felt that it would feel much more comfortable having our own space and privacy. Especially because Aurélie hadn’t had a fixed sleeping nor drinking rhythm.

Back to our travel preparation. Because our Mini Countryman didn’t have a big baggage space, we had to take our Thule roof box for our luggage (which has expanded 10-fold since we have Aurélie).. Because of the roof box and the limited space in our car, we only took weekender and rucksacks instead of hardshell luggages.

This was the very first time, that I minimized MY necessities and travel luggage for the sake of practicability.. Usually I would need at least one cabin luggage, which would be filled to its maximal capacity 😉 This time, Clemens and I actually managed to bring ONLY one hiking rucksack (with a 30 liter capacity) for our clothing, shower AND my facial necessities (hurray! I was so proud of myself).

So with a total of 2 weekenders (one for Aurélies clothing and the other for her books and toys), one big rucksack and 2 daily rucksacks each for Clemens and me, we finally hit the road!

The first hour of the car trip was a little excruciating, because Aurélie wasn’t comfortable at all sitting in her Maxi Cosi 😦 She kept screaming and crying no matter what I did to soothe her. We did a pit stop just by Ingolstadt to figure out, what we could do to soothe her. We were extremely excited about the „Raststätte Köschinger Forest West“ because of the very modern and clean diaper changing room! The diaper changing room even had warm light and music for babies.. Totally cool!

Sanifair Raststätte

And so after I breastfed Aurélie and changed her diaper, she was content again. Just by miracle, Aurélie did fall asleep and slept through, even until one hour after we reached our destination! You can’t imagine how relieved and happy these newbie-parents were 😉

Three days in paradise.. Even Aurélie was so relaxed and she instantly felt at home in the apartment by the lake. It was probably the cold crisp air and the serenity of the lake, that Aurélie even slept much much longer and better than at home.. We were beyond happy, that our first trip was successful!

Anyway, I made a check-list of newborn baby winter traveling necessities:
– Vitamin D
– Long sleeved onesies (1/day, in case of diaper leaks or puking)
– Pyjamas (at least 2, one extra)
– Overalls, shirts, pullovers/cardigans and pants (at least one set for every 2 days in winter, one set/day in summer)
– Leggings/stockings (at least 2)
– Winteroverall: we have a fleece overall from Hoppediz. This seriously has a good quality for a very good price! The size (ours is 56-62) runs a bit bigger, so that the overall still fits even for over size 62.
– 2 hats
– A fleece scarf
– 2 pairs of gloves
– At least 2 pairs of socks
– Baby carrier (we had Manduca jersey, but since Aurélie weighed over 5 kg we changed into a Manduca carrier) + winter fleece-cover for Manduca (a must have for the winter! We have one from Manduca by Mam, which is a two-sided cover. One side is fleece and the other side is made of water-resistant material. In cold temperatures we use the fleece side facing the baby. You can use both sides, depending on the outside temperature).

Manduca Cover
This is, how the manduca cover looks like 🙂

– Washcloths
– Facial cloths
– Burp bibs (1/day)
– Baby towel
– Bedsheet (for baby bed)
– Baby blanket and sleeping bag
– Diaper changing mats
– Plastic bags for dirty diapers
– Enough diapers (5-6/day)
– Baby thermometer and nail scissor
– Hot-water bottle (in case of stomachaches or to warm up the bed)
– Cherry-pit cushion (in case of stomachaches)
– Playing mat/blanket
– Baby passport (in case of cross border travels)
– Paracetamol suppository (in case of fever)
– Pacifiers (if baby takes any)
– Toys (small ones) and baby books

Electives:
– Portable loudspeaker: because Aurélie loves to hear music and we always integrate music (basically any kind, but usually classics and spanish pop 😉
– Room thermometer: because we have the theory that Aurélie sleeps best at around 20 degrees Celsius.

Because I breastfeed Aurélie, we didn’t need to carry bottles and stuffs for feeding..

Another useful things I want to share are:
– A snuggling warm foot muff made of sheepskin for the pram.. I honestly don’t know how we should survive the winter walks without this precious thing! The price is indeed costly (we got ours from Kaiser, bought at Amazon, for around 120€). But if you live in a country, where the weather is cold for almost half of the year and your baby likes to sleep outside, it is just so inevitable! Even at minus degrees temperatures (it was around -2 to 2 degrees in Walchensee), Aurélie always had warm feet and she could sleep very comfortably.

Lammfell Kaiser
Foot muff Kaiser sheep skin

– A fleece blanket/foot muff for the baby car seat. We have one from Vertbaudet, which has a zip that can be opened, once the car interior temperature gets warm. It’s very practical in the winter. Because in the first minutes, the car interior can be still very cold, that your baby can feel very uncomfortable. But once the car is driving, the interior temperature will be around 20-22 degrees, that the baby will start having a heat shock, if we put on their winter jacket for the car ride. And so, with this special blanket/sleeping bag, we can put their normal clothing on avoiding cold or heat shock 🙂

Fußsack Maxicosi
Foot muff for Maxi Cosi

Well, I hope that this post can help any new mommies, who want to travel with her babies.. Yes, even in winter! 🙂

Love,

Andina

Mommy on indulgence: A Throwback to Our First Two Months..

Four months postpartum.. Many nights, days and intentions later, I can finally bring myself to write again. There have been so many random words swimming in the back of my head. Due to other priorities and lack of sleep, my head seems to be not in a status, where it’s able to structuring these random words into one proper paragraph.

Since le hubby is jogging with the small one, mommy has more or less one and half hour of indulgence time. This indulgence time is usually filled with cleaning the house or cooking and an express shower. But not today. Today (after miraculously 8 hours of sleep!) my head seems to function rather normally. And so here I am again sitting in front of my mac and trying to paraphrase those random words..

 

Jogging with papi

Long before our sweet one was born, my husband always told me that he didn’t really want to change our lifestyle even with a baby. What’s our lifestyle? We LOVE traveling and eating out. Not necessarily overseas-trips, but we do a lot of short trips on the weekend. Sometimes there are city-trips, a short drive to the mountain for a hike in the warm seasons or for a cross-country ski in the winter, a short trip to the lakes for swimming or standup-paddling.. Something like that. And if we don’t go for a trip on the weekend, we like to go jogging, biking or trying out two to three cafes or restaurants in Nuremberg or surrounding.

 

At the very beginning after our sweet one was born, I was rather overwhelmed with my new mommy role. Because of some medical complications I couldn’t really walk or sit properly for about 3-4 weeks. Breastfeeding works now very well, although at the beginning I was thinking: „this baby is assaulting my breasts, how am I supposed to breastfeed in public! I didn’t think that it would work at all.. But somehow mommy and baby have become to work out together very well and now I am thinking: „Can I just breastfeed Aurélie „forever“?“ Breastfeeding has been our best friends because we indeed are able to maintain our previous lifestyle without having to bend our child’s needs.

It seemed like forever, but it hasn’t been that long ago, since we were brave enough to travel with our sweet one. Aurélie was born in the late autumn, so by the time we started doing our trips, we had the challenge of how to dress our baby in the coldest of winter!

Since there have been some questions about the products and clothing we are using for Aurélie, I’m thinking about writing about those too..

Anyways..

I had the courage to take Aurélie out as she was 5 weeks old. Our first visit was the Dokumentationszentrum (Documentation Center Nazi Party Rally Grounds), together with our family. Since Aurélie is half German, we thought that it was very important that she learned the German history from very early on! No..kidding 😉 It was actually a coincidence. The real reason because my family hadn’t been in the museum. Well, that first day out wasn’t really a big hit. Breastfeeding went unpleasently (well.. I was almost traumatized) and Aurélie started screaming after a while. The screaming went on until her bed time around 8 p.m. The worst thing, she screamed and cried on the whole car ride back (about 20 minutes). In Germany we’re not allowed to take the baby out of her car seat during the ride. So yeah, I was nearly deaf after this first ride out and I didn’t want to go out with her ever again..

Aurelie1

Nevertheless..

I collected some courage to leave the house again, this time together with my mother. The second trip went much better, since I had her in the Manduca baby carrier, where she could just cuddle and doze off. Well you can’t really call it a trip though, as it was actually only a walk to a cafe nearby (about 10 minutes walk ;)). But hey, it was less traumatizing since mommy could have her cappuccino in peace!

cafesecondtrip

A couple days later we tried a farther situated cafe (around 20 minutes walk), where I had to breastfeed her in public. Yes, every time the challenge got harder! Well not so hard, because my parents were also there with us. And we worked together for a peaceful break 😉

kaulbach

By the end of the second month – hard to believe – I was out with Aurélie everyday. She loves (better said: she HAS to) having her early nap in the pram in the fresh air. So mommy has to come out of the house for a walk EVERYDAY at pointe 11 a.m, no matter what. The positive side of this is that we both have been very healthy this winter (toi toi toi), thanks to walking for around 10 kms a day and the constant carrying of 10-12 kgs of weight.. The downside of this is, I still have to come out even if it’s snowing or stormy. Yes, also when it’s below zero temperatures.. zzzz…. The perks of having a winter baby, who apparently loves to be in the cold!

mommy with pram

And now our small one is 4 months old and she LOVES going out.. She will be sitting on our laps looking around and be very lovely for the whole dining or coffee time. The only thing that she doesn’t like is being packed in her winter clothings, every time we’re about to leave the restaurants..

mommy in cafe

In the end, we haven’t changed our hobby of traveling and eating out. But probably we have created a kid, who likes to hang out in a cafe.. (!)

Love,

Andina

The pursuit of happiness (3): the beauty of deceleration.

I was taking a break. When writing, that was supposed to ease my mind, was becoming too exhausting and demanding, I had to stop. So I stopped.. for a while. And now here I am again.

 

I remembered the first session, how my therapist asked me,“what brings you here? Tell me what has been bothering you“. The room was warm and cozy, her voice was so calm and the atmosphere so peacefully silent. And suddenly the dam broke and my words flushed uncontrollably. She just listened. And after I was finished, she said,“I’m so glad that you are here. I bet it wasn’t easy to let your guard down and to come here, was it? From your story, I don’t doubt for a second, that you have been dragging a whole lot of loads in these past years. I wonder how you have been holding up so long.“ The session was over then.. There wasn’t much of questioning and answering. She just let me talk. And I was beyond amazed, how relieving it was, to paraphrase all the things that have been bothering and burdening me. Sometimes small problems or bigger ones are left unsolved and they are buried in the corner of our minds, getting bigger and spookier.. They continue to grow bigger and scarier until someday we’re getting so afraid of them, not knowing anymore what these fears actually are.

In the first period of staying home I was afraid, that I got bored and that I got lazy. I felt bad and irresponsible for staying home and still receiving a salary. So I started to plan my days in and out, doing things that I thought useful. I started making check list of everything I should do during my sick-leave.. I still had a lot of contact with people from my job, trying to plan my coming back.. even when I was not ready for work yet.

My check list got overhand. Instead of relaxing and calming down, I started to hold pressure of myself (again!). When the check-list wasn’t done by the end of the day, I started having my anxiety attack again.

Then my therapist told me to stop completely. Stop demanding things from myself. Stop making check-lists and goals. Just be. In and out.. I should just be.. Beginning with 5 minutes a day.. and then 10 minutes a day.. and then two – three times a day. I tried to be „just be“ and be grateful, that I still have the day to be me.

And then I started to think.. I actually didn’t really have to take extra 10 minutes a day to „just be“. Moslems do pray 5 times a day.. and these occasions are just the perfect timings for just being at the moment and being grateful. And so I tried to be more discipline of doing the 5-times-prayers.. The prayers I have been doing since I was a little child.. And slowly I re-found my personal essence of religion and my peace in it. I personally don’t have the need to brag and tell everyone about my belief. Because I believe, religion is the most personal thing.. It is about myself and the Lord of this vast universe. I suppose, that I would find the same peace in other religions as well. For me, religion is the media and not more. The Lord is that almighty, he doesn’t need to be defended. (So yes, I am definitely against the belief of some people, who keep saying that they were „protecting“ their religion and their Lord from being „tainted“). 

Then I spent a lot of time, thinking (and not thinking) primarily about what I want, doing only things that I like. I have been trying to let go and to be nothing. I forgot for the moment about the medicine, about the duties and the responsibilities. I have been knitting, writing, painting, cooking, wandering, jogging, being in the fresh air, cherishing the simplest things, listening to music. I have been re-meeting a lot of important people in my life. And I let them re-inspire me. I tried to find „Andina“.. and tried to leave the „Dr. Andina“.

Somehow I slowly started missing medicine again. I started to miss my job. I missed the „puzzle-solving“.  I missed the holding the hands of my patients.  I started to miss the feeling, that I can do something and be actually useful with my acquired knowledge.

By the end of this episode in March 2017, I got myself ready for a slow comeback. Thanks to the excellent German insurance system and the big support of my employer, I could go back being a doctor again. Being a doctor, who’s also happy of being one.. And not just one, who feels obligated to function just because of the title..

So amazing, how God guides me through all these loving people around me to re-function again and to decelerate my life.

By the time I completely accepted myself along with my strengths and weaknesses, by the time I started recognizing my life priorities, we are granted with a gift of pregnancy.

And so now.. having come back in my working life, I automatically decelerate. Not only for the sake of myself, but more importantly for the sake of this tiny wonder, that has been living and thriving in me since 5 months..

Deceleration 2

#So which of the favors of your Lord would you deny? (QS Ar Rahman) 

 

 

 

 

 

Celine – A thought and a redefinition.

About a Celine bag.

It was winter 2016, precisely on the beginning of January 2016. I was with Clemens in Berlin to celebrate my 30th birthday and the new year. We went to ballet, watching Swan Lake in Friedrichstadt-Palast. We were in Berlin to make my dream come true.

My dream was to buy a branded bag as I turned 30. It was set in my head. I had already saved money since I had started to work. It was set in my head, that by the age of 30 I wanted to have a bag, either a Celine or a Chanel bag. As a monument of success.

Well I already bought some branded bags such as Louis Vuitton or Proenza Schouler. This frenzy started actually as I started working. Probably as a compensation of my „exhausting“ life. Probably inside, I wasn’t really satisfied with my life that I started buying those branded bags to compensate, thinking that they would make me happy. But the thing about Louis Vuitton bags, they are very functional and extremely sturdy, so that I never regret buying those bags. My mother loves it. Probably that’s why I never had a bad feeling about buying Louis Vuitton bags.

As I was studying, I  never had the need to have branded stuffs. I was happy studying and living my life. Our parents provided us good money. It wasn’t enough for luxury, but it was more than enough to live an adequate life. It was enough for the primary needs and also sometimes for the secondary needs. For all the traveling and other stuffs that I wanted, I worked beside my study. I had always worked since my second year of med school. First I worked in a french fries stall in the central station of Hannover, before I realized that I couldn’t handle the stress (my big respect to people, who work in train stations!). I was afraid of the hot frying oil. And the demand was enormous, especially after soccer games. And so I decided to quit after 3 months. Luckily since then I had the opportunities to work as a professor assistant (in the histology and pathology classes) and I earned my extra money from that job until the end of my study in 2011. It were fulfilling jobs and it gave me enough money to live a beyond good life as a student.

As I said, I had never been into branded stuffs, because we were raised that way by our parents. We were raised to be hard workers. If we wanted to have something, we had to work and to save money for it. During med school, I never had time to think about branded bags or shoes. Whenever I had time or money, I went traveling. Or I saved my money to go to Indonesia.

And then I finished my med school and became a physician. If I look back now, every time I felt overstressed or every time I went back home from demanding and exhausting late night shifts, I bought nice and branded stuffs. Probably to compensate my exhaustion. The weird thing was that the pleasure didn’t really last long. It was exhilarating for the moment I clicked and bought the stuffs (I used to buy a lot of stuffs online, since I never had the time to go to stores). But after a  couple of days, the pleasure and the pride of having branded stuffs were gone. But it did become a thing of „addiction“.. The more exhausted I was, the more expensive stuffs I bought. And it became a circulus vitiosus..

It somehow turned into a life goal, having THE branded Celine or Chanel bag by 30 years of age. I had saved my money for this. And so back to January 2016: I had the moment of truth. That evening we went to Kadewe, it was the last evening before we went back to Nuremberg. A couple of days before I had already visited the Celine Store in Kadewe and had looked for a blue Celine bag. I wanted a blue bag, because I hadn’t had any blue one. I didn’t want any black one, because I thought it would be too ordinary. I realized that time, that my saving wasn’t enough for a Chanel bag, which would have costed double as the Celine bag.

But I did it anyway. We went to the Celine store, and I saw THE bag. It was a limited edition of the summer 2016. Dark blue with red linings. I fell in love with that particular bag instantly. Clemens approved it too, as it was „extraordinary“. I didn’t think twice. I decided to buy the „micro“ Celine luggage, as I intended to have a bag for work.

It was a really confusing moment really. Because on one side I was telling myself that I earned this. I had been working and studying a lot and I should just fulfill my dreams. On the other hand I started to have bad feeling and doubts. I asked myself, what would I do with that kind of bag? I’m not a person who goes into pretty lunches, wearing Louboutin high heels, Tiffany earrings and Chanel bags.. Of course I like the idea of it and I don’t see the bad in it.. But it’s just not the way I was raised. I am a „Genießer„. I enjoy going to nice, expensive Cafés. I love having five course dinners with good wines. I love staying in a nice hotel. But frankly, I won’t die if I don’t have those things.

I went out of Kadewe feeling like a champion. So proud of having reached my „life goal“. This excitement and pride lasted for a couple of days.

Then I had another moment of truth. After a couple of days carrying this bag and trying to „integrate“ this bag into my daily life, I realized how not-functional this bag for me is. It doesn’t go with a long strap that I have to carry the bag in my hands every time. It is already heavy so that I can’t really put heavy things into it. Whereas I always have so many heavy things that I need for work. I have my laptop, my documents, my folders, a stethoscope, my bottle of water, bread, fruits.. And then I realized, how could I put a banana into a Celine bag?? I don’t even have the heart for it!

Really.. I thought again..“Why did I buy this bag? How could I carry such bag in Germany, where I ride a lot of bike everywhere.. Where the winter can be very long with harsh snow and rains, where the roads are full of salt and stones..“ I would cover the bag under an umbrella, letting myself soak in the rain just to keep the bag safe and dry.. How dumb is that?? So after some time, I started to put the bag as a „decoration“. It just sits in my room. I enjoy looking at it, but I don’t like carrying it..

Well.. I don’t regret buying it.. Sometimes I do. But this particular bag becomes a monument of a „doubtful decision“. It wasn’t a wrong decision, but it was not a „double-thought“ decision. And the pride of having a Celine bag has long gone..

Don’t get me wrong. I am still a big bag fan. I’m not scolding myself for being a bag fan. I would just look at the bag as an investment. But these kinds of bags don’t speak to me or represent me.

And that’s the moment of truth:

I have to look for happiness somewhere else,

not in the branded bags. 

Love,

Andina :*

#domoreofwhatmakesyouhappy: Refurbishing my old hobby of photography.

I used to love photography. As I was about 16 years old, my father gave me his old Nikon SLR FM2 and I loved it very much. He let me take some photography classes and I was immersed in that hobby for a while. But then all the years have passed and I grew to forget about the pleasure of photography.

I dabbled from time to time, with a lot of simple digital cameras (mainly owned by my father). But I never got the feeling of photography anymore, probably because I am usually too lazy to bring a camera with me whenever I travel. Instead I just use my iphone.

Now during my sick-leave, I once again am suddenly inspired to refurbish my old hobby. And I  do have been missing the „clicking“ sounds of a camera. But before I buy a camera, which will someday probably be left idling in a corner at my house, I decided to ask my brother if he would lend me his Fujifilm system camera. And then my father arrived in Europe for our winter holiday. Upon seeing my sudden re-inspiration of photography, he AGAIN generously let me use his Sony NEX 7 system camera.

So being in Spain for two weeks, Clemens and I walked around the cities of Madrid, Sevilla and Granada. Usually we don’t really plan, what or where we are going to do or go to. Instead we just start walking and getting lost.. In 2014 (during my first stay in Madrid) I spent most of my time in Lavapies, Sol and La Latina  (absolutely worth visiting since it’s the main area for tapas bars!). In 2016 Clemens and I spent a lot of time in Barrio de las letras and Chueca (very cool and hip areas with tons of cafes and restaurants).

Well I have always been a fan of Spanish architecture.. But on this trip I somehow fell in love so much with the beautiful windows and balconies.

I have always loved balconies, especially since I’ve been living in Germany. Balconies are a thing of luxury you don’t really want to miss if you live in a cold country. Once the weather gets warm, Clemens and I ALWAYS lounge in our balcony.. The perfect balcony is the one which faces the south, as then you will always have sunlight in the afternoon till the evening.

Well I must say that the Spaniards do have incredible and beautiful balconies. That’s why I want to share some of those beautiful balconies, windows and doors we encountered during our trip in Spain.

We found these beautiful balconies in Madrid..

Then I found these doors and balconies in Sevilla so irresistible..  

But my ultimate favorite balcony is this one I found in Granada: 

madrid_fullsizeoutput_2881

I always think that balconies are very romantic.. Imagine Rapunzel sitting on the balcony waiting for her prince .. (well although Rapunzel did not sit in a balcony..) But you know what I mean.. 😉

See you on the next post!

Love,

Andina :*

#domoreofwhatmakesyouhappy: learning Spanish in Madrid, the heart of Spain.

Ever since I know Kerstin, one of my best friends who happens to come from Chile and speaks Spanish, I have been fascinated by the language. From what I have been experiencing, Spanish-speaking people are known to be very lovable, nice and also full of temperaments. I love listening to Spanish music (mainly pop, bachata and salsa songs). And I love listening my Spanish-speaking friends, simply because their conversations are ALWAYS full of emotions and movements 🙂 And so, speaking Spanish has been one of my dreams since the last couple of years.

What I learned from my German-learning experience is: if I want to learn a new language, I need to take an extra time to be able to learn it in a local place, where I can have a full language and living experience. I did took a Spanish course during med school for a semester, but it was only once a week. As imagined, my Spanish didn’t develop whatsoever.. Then I was busy with my other goals, so that I didn’t continue the language course anymore.

After weighing some of the options, I decided to learn Spanish in Madrid two years ago in 2014. At that time, my husband and I moved from Hannover to Erlangen. I wanted to do a short „sabbatical“ and do other things outside of medicine. I was sure then, that it was the perfect opportunity to start learning Spanish again. Why Madrid? It was primarily because of the location and cost. I wanted to experience a Spanish life in the heart of the country and I always like living in a big city. Madrid seemed to me as an excellent option, since it has everything I need and it’s only 3-hours away by flight from Germany. And I happened to know two Spanish friends, who are also doctors and live/work in Madrid. I had been to Barcelona a couple of times and also in the Canary islands, but I had never been in the capital of Spain. I wanted to learn the „high“ – Spanish (Castellano) and not begin with dialects (Catalonian in Barcelona or the Canarian dialect). So after some research of where to do the Spanish course and where I could live, I went for Madrid the first time in November 2014.

The experience proved to be an excellent one. Madrid is a city full of life! The architecture, the culture, the people, the food..everything is just beautiful! I once again was privileged to live in a new culture and it felt just as my exchange year in Germany in 2003, as I was only 17 years old. I stayed in an Air Bnb room in an apartment of a Spanish lady, together with some other some other people. My landlady Margarita can’t speak English, which was perfect, so that I was „forced“ to speak only Spanish. Just as I expected, the Spanish people are so warm-hearted and open. I had a really good time in Margarita’s apartment, feeling like I was at home.

I was so inspired and highly motivated to speak Spanish, that I decided to take a super-intensive course for 4 weeks (6 hours per day, 5 days a week). There are a lot of language schools in Madrid. My choice was Inhispania, just because it was the most found school in Google. They have good reviews and reasonable prices. The whole procedure was very simple. I did a placement test in the internet prior of my departure to Spain, paid a downpayment with a credit card and Inhispania took care of the rest. They sent me good information materials prior of my arrival, that I already had a good feeling about the school even before I arrived in Madrid.

The four weeks in Madrid were opening my eyes for the second time in my life. This world is open to us to discover! I truly felt privileged and enchanted to be able to live a „short“ Spanish life in the capital city of Spain. It was a beyond good experience, meeting so many great new friends, even made a very good friendship with a girl from Stockholm (hello Anna! :*).

Anna1.jpg

I fell in love so hard with Madrid, that I decided to come back again for two weeks in the winter holiday of 2016 (more of this in the upcoming posts!)

So for anyone of you, who wants to learn Spanish in Madrid, these are some of my tipps:

– Do get a good language school! There are so many good language schools in Madrid, which I have heard of. My personal experience in Inhispania was good, so feel free to check the school out (http://inhispania.com/) -> please note that I’m not doing any kind of advertisements here, I’m only sharing my personal experience). Inhispania has flexible classes, friendly administrative staffs and professional teachers. The location is also very strategic, as being so close to the „Metropolis“-building in the Gran vía. They always arrange afternoon/evening activities for its students, which also provide to be a good way to meet people and practice Spanish outside of the class. We did things such as going to tapas bars or cafés, visiting museums, visiting Toledo, going to „intercambio-bars“, watching Spanish films and some other stuffs. All in all, I am satisfied with this school.

– Stay in an accommodation, preferably together with some other Spaniards. The more contact you have with native people, the faster it gets to learn the language. I used to chat a lot with my landlady over a coffee in the afternoon. On some days I did some telenovela watching with her too! The Spaniards speak extremely fast though, so I really didn’t understand a single word in the first week. But it got remarkably better!

– Go to some „intercambio“ (language exchange) bars. These are some bars, where you could meet new people and practice your Spanish in exchange for another language. In some bars you get flag stickers of the languages you speak, so that people can recognize easily which languages you speak. There are a lot of Spanish people, who are interested in learning English, German, Russian, Chinese, etc. I did have some nice evenings in the bars, talking with nice Spaniards and practice my Spanish, while also helping them practice English or German. Unfortunately I didn’t meet anyone who learned Indonesian ;). These are some bars, that are known to do „intercambio“ :

  •  Beer Station, calle Santo Domingo, 22 (Metro: Santo Domingo, Callao). They usually have their „intercambio“-program on Thursdays (starting around 22:00).
  •  Café Madrid, calle Mesón de Paños, 6 (Metro: Ópera). Intercambio is usually on      Wednesdays and Thursdays  (Starting around 21:00)
  • La Excéntrica, calle Fuentes, 10 (Metro: Ópera). This place is a meeting point of a group called MadridBabel (check their website at http://madridbabel.weebly.com/). They meet up twice a week on Wednesday and Sunday evenings and organize the „intercambio“).

– Try to speak as much Spanish as possible. Order your food in Spanish, ask for toilettes or directions in Spanish, sing Spanish songs. Spanish people are very kind and they are very happy to hear you trying to speak their language. They always tell me, that I could speak a perfect Spanish, even if I could only say „¿hola, que tal?“, „gracias“ or „¡hasta luego!“.

– Try to read Spanish magazines or books. If you are staying for a longer period of time, do visit the library of Cervantes (Biblioteca del Instituto Cervantes), calle Barquillo 6, Madrid. The entrance is free and the library card is also free. They have a very good collection of films and books! Unfortunately I heard about this by the end of my stay, so I couldn’t really use this great offer.  Also very interesting and fun is to visit the book market in front of the Retiro Park. The book selections are amazing and you will find so many great books from children books to serious classical literatures!

Allright then.. I hope, that this entry can be of help for some of you who also might be interested in learning Spanish in Madrid.

¡Hasta luego!

Andina :*