Emerge into cultures, locally

08-04-2021

It's Easter, which in a Catholic country like Spain means: one whole week of holiday, of sunshine, and of freedom. Well, as much freedom as you can have during a pandemic, that is. In Madrid, one of the better places to be in Europe right now when it comes to Corona restrictions (a reason why French youth migrates here almost religiously, making the Spanish and Dutch news), this means not being allowed to leave the Comunidad de Madrid.

That made all Erasmus students sigh collectively. The restriction means no romantic weekend trips to Barcelona, no sunny days in Valencia, not visiting friends in Granada. And it's only then, being limited to Madrid and its immediate surroundings that we Erasmus students truly started to appreciate the bottomless adventures that the Comunidad de Madrid really encompasses.

I went hiking, counting vertical meters as I went. I visited a castle. I climbed rocks, looking for the mountain goats that I saw from a distance. I threw an axe at a target. I actually hit the target with the axe (1 out of 15 times, but still). I went to an alternative cinema, watching an Irish independent movie with Spanish subtitles. I saw a drag show and ate a waffle in the shape of a penis. I bought skates and made my way around El Retiro Park. I procrastinated. A lot.

And it's in those moments that I realise what the pandemic has taught me. After years of searching for the furthest destinations to escape to, looking for the newest friend, and the biggest adventures, it's the quarantine with the same three people in a small space for 14 days that has now engraved itself into my heart as one of my best memories. The nature around the corner that has become more and more beautiful in my mind. And the diversity around me that has opened my eyes and heart to the streets I live in.

Jesler van Houdt

Emerge into cultures, locally
Jesler van Houdt looking out over Madrid.
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