what’s it like living in madrid, spain for 127 days !!!!!!
i’ve always sort of known that i would go, study, live, etc abroad at some point in my life… i’ve taken spanish since my freshman year of high school, and it is one of my majors in college ! i actually was in the process of applying for spring of my sophomore year of college, but i got a little nervous… and decided it would be better to go the following year!
TIME FLIES. and before i knew it… it was time to prepare !
spain was my top (and only choice) for places i wanted to go.
i chose an exchange program which is different than most… always being last minute a lot of external programs (like ISA, etc) were full… and my advisor suggested an exchange. i had interned in d.c. the summer before… i went in knowing absolutely no one and had the time of my life ! so with a little pep talk i was up for the challenge… an exchange program is different in a lot of ways. first off, it’s all up to you! the whole process. your visa. flights. friends. weekend trips etc. sort of a sink or swim kind of thing… which can be really scary but all the more rewarding. a BIG plus of choosing exchange is my tuition from my home university transferred to my university in madrid. and… lucky for me, that’s all taken care of with scholarships… being a nerd pays off !
i nervously chose and submitted my application all on the day it was due… pretty typical of me being so indecisive and proof that it’s OK to make last minute BIG decisions.
another choice was… where do i live !!!! LUCKY for me, one of my closest friends, roomie, etc, N, had studied in madrid at the university i was going to the previous summer. she had stayed in a homestay and mentioned requesting her host mom… BEST DECISION (other than studying abroad in the first place) … with my university there was the choice of a dorm, homestay, or finding your own housing. a homestay was the best choice for me… wanting to improve my spanish. my host mom, M, (truly an angel) did not speak a word of english… sink or swim !
my mom and i went 2 weeks before… we spent a week in paris (ugh dreamy) and then a week in madrid before classes started ! we got all my stuff moved in at my host mom’s apartment… and explored my new home ! i am such a mama’s girl, and this honestly helped me so much ! the adjustment was easier than i ever thought it could be !
homesickness… ok, so shockingly enough… this wasn’t really a thing for me. like i said, i had wanted to do this for SO long. there was literally no time to miss home. don’t get me wrong… i missed my brother’s constantly teasing me, my dog bud’s sweet cuddles, date nights with my boyfriend, my mom and dad’s encouraging talks… in person, but my support system loved me just as much from roughly 4,674 miles away. what other time would i get to explore entirely new places freely like this? live live live… go go go !
i went to universidad antonio de nebrija… i literally cannot speak highly enough of this place… i took 15/18 hours (i’m still not too sure…) of spanish classes… NADA en inglés (super super super good for my spanish) …truth is even though i’d taken tons of spanish in the u.s… i had major anxiety about speaking. i speak spanish now better than i ever thought was possible for myself… and i love doing it. no classes on fridays was PERFECT for travel. my professors were also the BOMB. and class was a 5 min walk from the homestay.
… i got way too lucky.
on my walk to school every morning…
i’ve mentioned in other posts that i met my 2 closest friends on the literal 1st day… orientation. G and E !!!!!! i love them both HUGE ! we’re all from different states, go to different universities, etc… they were a big part of making my study abroad so incredible. we had our lives flipped upside-down together. we figured it out together. i could go on and on about these friendships, but i could never put into words how thankful i am for them !
(G and E below… and a chocolate croissant !!!!)
i went a pretty decent amount of places… to the point i was like ‘ok, no more flying for a minnnuuttte’ …
Paris, France… Seville, Spain… Mallorca, Spain… Salamanca, Spain… London, England… Paris, France (2nd time)… London, England (2nd time)… Verona, Italy… Amsterdam, Netherlands… Lisbon, Portugal… San Sebastián, Spain… tiny town outside of Milan, Italy… Mykonos, Greece… Santorini, Greece… Venice, Italy…
7 countries. i could’ve done more, but it was really important to me to spend time exploring madrid… AND important for my beauty sleep too…
i traveled by plane. train. ferry. and bus… trains are my favorite !
i stayed in everything from hostels to 5 star boutique hotels.
i had the best time ever !!!!!! i learned a BIG part of travel is who you’re with ! always a good idea to be around people you wholeheartedly enjoy! take your time and don’t try to fit too many things in at once. laugh a lot, meet new friends, eat good food… love BIG !
pro tip: hostels are realllllly nice… when you’re ballin’ on a budget. use hostelworld.com, research, book ! most provide a free breakfast, you meet people from around the world, a lot offer discounts on things to do, and always free advice ! ALSO, use goeuro.com for transportation… shows you options of all your choices at the cheapest rates… and believe me, you can find deals. i used all forms… frequently. trains were my favorite because it is more spacey, comfy, less time to check in…and you get to see stuff you’ve probably never seen before !
IF YOU’RE GOING TO SPAIN
be patient with yourself. it literally took me a month to fully understand my host mom. don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions. FULLY IMMERSE. eat pan (bread) with EVERY meal. drink café con leche. sleep until at least 10 (nobody is going to be out before then anyway). stay up all night long. RELAX. take your time. mistakes will happen. you’ll forget things, and maybe miss a flight, get lost… but make the most of it! there’s no time to get frustrated or mad at yourself… and it is all a part of a growing process ! you’ll learn so much about yourself and the world. you’re so much stronger than you’ve ever imagined !!!!
reina sofia (my fav museum… modern art… lots of picasso and dalí), mercado de san miguel, palacio real, TAKOS al pastor (literally a must… the best street tacos in the world), CHOCOLATE WITH CHURROS (at chocolateria san gines… open 24/7), federal (good for studying… american-style coffeeshop), el corte ingles (pre-packaged salads with goat cheese, fresh orange juice, and digestive chocolate cookies), top of el corte ingles on gran via (good for drinks at sunset), las bellas artes/any rooftop, parque del retiro, templo de debod (both beautiful parks !), fruterías (for snacks for your picnics in the park)… malasaña/cheuca/lavapies (my fav neighborhoods), prado (like the louvre for spanish art… i have a love/hate relationship), real madrid games (soooo fun), PAELLA (traditional spanish rice dish…el sur is my favorite in lavapies), el sol (be careful about pickpockets here… and everywhere else ever), royal botanic gardens, casa de campo and oeste (other really nice parks… find your fav !), hiking the sierras (for a little break from the city) …..
me and E supporting our team !
picnics in oeste…
taking lots of pics!
have the time of your life. give everyday your all !!!!!