As most of you already know, I’ll be spending the next few months studying abroad in Madrid, Spain. I had already been in Europe traveling with my family beforehand, but my program officially started on January 6. As we near the end of our first week, I can’t believe it’s almost over.
Most of what we’ve done so far has been orientation and just getting to know the city and the people on our program. I’m doing what my school calls the “Madrid Business Program”, so I attend classes at both American University‘s local study center and at the ICADE Business School of Madrid’s Univerisdad Pontificia Comillas. While this combination of an enclave program and direct enrollment will make the experience even more worthwhile, it does mean twice the orientation! Hopefully all the this information will make the transition to life in Spain much easier and faster.
Because the official start day of our program was Three King’s Day, a big holiday in Spain when the Christmas gifts are exchanged, we spent the first night in a hotel. My study abroad program includes a home stay with a local Spanish family, so we had to wait until the holiday was over to move in. Having all of us in the same hotel made getting to know the 35 other people on our program easier, but it took a little while for the fact that we were actually going to be living in this country for five months to sink in. Things finally started to feel real when we moved into our home stays on Tuesday and got our local phones and unlimited Metro passes on Wednesday.
I live in the Salamanca district of Madrid, near the Goya metro station. It’s a really nice area, one of the nicest and most popular in Madrid, and I love the cute apartment that I share with a young couple originally from Romania, Lili and Vlad, and one other person from my program that I knew beforehand, Ben. We each have our own room and are within a few blocks of the metro. Madrid’s Metro is very well-developed and long given its size and population, so nothing is very far or hard to get to it, and but our home is very centrally located to ICADE, the study center, and the main downtown area of Puerta del Sol, so getting to each requires only a few stops and at most one transfer. Despite getting lost a few times by going out the wrong metro exit, we’ve finally realized out that the distance between two Metro entrances can be very long and figured out the names of the exits we take to get home. Our host family is awesome and very nice, and the food they make is delicious — a lot of the others on our program are very jealous when they see the bocadillos we get packed for lunch! Ben and I are slowly adjusting to living in another family’s home and having to speak Spanish at home, but we’ve already fallen in love with Spanish cuisine.
I’m excited to start classes tomorrow morning and start getting into the groove of real life in Madrid. It’s definitely been fun to spend time with other people on my program exploring the city and bar scene, but it will be nice to settle into a schedule and meet the people in our classes. We’ve also set a goal to only speak Spanish with each other starting tomorrow, so that will certainly be a challenge. I’ll try to keep my blog updated as much as possible, but for now, ¡besos y adiós!