While I have been enjoying my free time in Madrid, I have run into a few difficulties, the biggest of which is the language and cultural barrier. Although I know enough Spanish to get by, my conversational skills are lacking and, to make matters worse, my familiarity is with Latin American Spanish, not European Spanish, which is a bit different. All of my roommates speak better Spanish than I do so whenever we go out I don’t practice enough because they tend to take over the conversation. One major hurdle that I still need to overcome is being embarrassed to speak Spanish because I don’t want to make a mistake. Adjusting has been hard but as time goes on I do feel that my Spanish improving slightly.
Working here has its challenges as well. One difficult aspect is the long Spanish work day. In our office we typically work a 10-hour day and I usually don’t eat dinner until 22:00-22:30. This has been a huge adjustment for me (and for many other interns) as I’m used to working a maximum of 8 hours and being in bed by 22:00! Working so much leaves me exhausted and by the end of the day I often don’t feel like doing anything fun. I wish I had more time and energy to explore Madrid and other cities and countries! Not only is my workday long, the work itself is more demanding than I had expected. My boss has extremely high expectations of me, especially considering that I have not attended law school yet. To complicate matters, a lot of the work is in Spanish and I don’t know enough of the language to complete the tasks efficiently. I can’t even be left alone in the office for more than a few minutes in case someone calls and speaks more Spanish than I can handle.
Both my social life and my job here in Madrid can be overwhelming but I think it will be a good experience for me in the end.