By Driss
from Casablanca, Morocco

Usually, when we go to a country for an Erasmus, we arrive with our very own bundle of stereotypes, and sometimes, if not often, we take them back with us.

Yeah, sure, Spain is hot
You cannot imagine how happy I was on the 3rd of September when I knew that, arriving to Madrid, the temperature will be no different from the one I left on Moroccan beaches. Effectively, I land in Aeropuerto Barajas, and after a 30 minutes struggle with the guardia civil showing me what metro ticket I should buy, I finally climb the stairs to face the sumptuous spectacle of Gran Via, and god damn it was hot, just as Aymen said months ago, “Spain is hot, and not only for its nice weather 😉 ”. So, yes, Spain is hot, but clearly warmer when you’re wearing a massive parka, because, respecting your Erasmus student’s status, your too disorganized to make all your clothes fits in your suitcase, and too poor to pay for an extra suitcase.

The Spanish fiesta
Three weeks and some dressing adjustment later, the time had come for me to experience the first long queuing discussion till the entrance of the middling Erasmus parties’ night club, … with a Spanish social sciences/ arts/ archeology/ geopolitics student who was very critical about the narrow view that a majority of Erasmus students had of Spanish people as eternally partying, always happy and never working. The guy ended the night completely drunk, but nevermind, what he said is true. Spaniards are amazing people, they have a savoir vivre, they know how to party, how to take their time, how to work conscientiously, they have a fair sense of self-mockery, and an amazing resilience of their legendary good humor, despite the crisis. After all, back home, and back in the time, we called the spaniards “حازق” (the one with no money). They were fun before having money, and they never stopped being it.

The homesick phase
7.00 am: That day, I was coming back from Barajas, a bakery which had become one of my ‘best friends’, where cappucino and pastery tried hard to ease my pain. The least we could say is that there was not really a fiesta mood in this bakery. The waitresses were hiding their tremendous sleepiness behind shy and badly faked smiles, and my perception of things going around worsen. The Erasmus storm: Menton’s and Casablanca’s ghosts invited themselves to my Madrilenian party. Few hours after the end of my girlfriend’s first visit to Madrid, I couldn’t help this melancholic feeling. Madrid lost its colours for a week. Yes a week… It is precisely the amount of time it took me to start watching Cédric Klapisch’s trilogy, the first of which is the well-known ‘L’Auberge Espagnole’. Xavier, the hero of this Erasmus drama, inaugurated my amazing experience in Madrid.

I finally abandoned myself to Madrid, accepted her invitation to provide me with some great memories. The password to this treasure of memories would be “joder”. This word obsessed me, and I aimed to learn how to use it in all forms and circumstances. “Que no me jodas”, “estoy jodido”, or simply, “joder”, the metamorphosis from the “guiri” to the deeply-rooted madridista began. This process was supervised by Carlos, the killer of stereotypes, a dear friend.

At the end, the only way to leave your bundle beside the road is to keep your experience forever with you, no matter where you are, and this is not the task of your memory, but that of your friends, and that’s what Erasmus is all about.

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