While it shouldn’t matter where your friends are from, playing the “foreign card” isn’t going to help you make the most of your time here. If you want to see what Madrid is really like, you have to get involved in the community itself, not just your study abroad community.
Posts from the ‘Madrid’ Category
1. You put on more mileage than a marathon runner.
- Okay this is an exaggeration… slightly. Investing in a couple good pairs of shoes wouldn’t be such a bad idea, since my sandals gave out on me after the first month of cobblestone miles.
2. A coin is worth too much to throw in a fountain.
- Usually at home after a year of saving my leftover coins, I might have 10 bucks saved if I’m lucky. But here, a coin can be worth up to about $2.50! (By the time you convert it). So don’t forget about the loose change hiding in your pockets, it’s worth something!
I can’t believe it has already been a month in Spain! Time flies when you’re having the time of your life! It feels like it was just yesterday when I got my acceptance email and couldn’t believe my eyes. The next thing I knew, I was busy packing while finishing up summer classes and working. Before I knew it, it was time to say “Goodbye Dallas, Hola España!” – a phrase I had only dreamed of saying. I tried to imagine what life would be like when I arrived in Spain. I read almost every article I could about it, but it felt like I might not be prepared. Read more
I’m finally in Salamanca and really enjoying my time here so far! I can’t wait to have time to actually explore this city! Madrid, however, has got to be one of my top three favorite cities in the world:
- I think it might be a rule somewhere that you’re not allowed to visit Madrid without making a visit to El Prado. I definitely enjoyed my visit there significantly better than the last time I visited (it’s no secret that I’m not a huge fan of classical art) and I think having a guide helped. We got a fairly comprehensive look at the major styles featured in the museum through the art of El Greco, Diego Velasquez, and Francisco de Goya. Goya’s Saturn Devouring His Child is still my favorite. Read more
Adrienne Prillaman is a student at University of North Texas and an an ISA Classmates Connecting Cultures blogger corresponding with a high school student leadership class in Keller, Texas. Adrienne is studying abroad in Salamanca, Spain on an ISA Fall 4 program.
While the fact I was surrounded by so much history was not as evident in the big city of Madrid (except in the museums), it was impossible to miss in Toledo, El Escorial, and my new home: Salamanca, Spain. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t despise Madrid – there was a lot of interesting things to see in the museums and neat places around the city- but I’ve seen plenty of big cities. I was ready to get into a smaller, more intimate atmosphere. Madrid was okay, Toledo and El Escorial were better, but Salamanca… I couldn’t have picked a better place to live for these 3 months.
It was surreal to step off the plane in Madrid Thursday morning fifteen hours after leaving Newark airport when I had only been traveling for nine hours. We flew all night and of course I hadn’t slept more than an hour and a half. I was too excited to settle down, so I spent the better part of the flight talking to the Portuguese and Hungarian guys next to me. When we arrived in Madrid, two ISA staff members, Bárbara and Raquel, scooped us up and brought us to the hotel. Of course, the only thing on our minds at that point was food, so we hit the ground running—almost literally—off to lunch.
It didn’t hit me how tired I was until that afternoon around 4:00 pm. So, naturally, I ignored every piece of advice I had gotten thus far about managing jet lag and took a little siesta. What can I say—I was determined to adjust to the Spanish lifestyle immediately. That night, we went to dinner around nine o’clock (which is still early for Spaniards) and talked until midnight. I wanted to get some sleep, but I much preferred getting to know my new friends. The next day we had an amazing tour of El Prado and the Reina Sofia museum. After lunch—you guessed it—I took another siestita. The orientation was really a blur. We were busy all day, every day. After spending two days in Madrid, we went to Toledo for a day, and finally arrived in Valencia.
I’ve been in Valencia for ten days now and have taken a siesta just about every day. It might sound excessive, but the extra hour of sleep during the afternoon allowed me to adjust to the Spanish timetable of staying up until 1:00am on a normal night. I haven’t once felt too exhausted to participate in the activities ISA has planned or to go explore the city with friends. I know that everyone will tell you, future study-abroad-er, that in order to beat jet lag, you must force your body to stay awake. That just isn’t the case, for me at least. I did my best to adjust to my new Spanish lifestyle as quickly as possible, and that included siestas. So far so good! I think I’ll keep up with it.
Before I came to Madrid I was bombarded with tips and advice from study abroad alumni, self-proclaimed travel experts, and random online searches by yours truly. “Don’t you dare wear sandals, they aren’t too fond of Americans”, “Guard your purse with your life at all times”, “At least they won’t expect you to speak Spanish…” just to name a few of the totally reassuring comments I received pre-departure.
Having never left the good old US of A in my life, I honestly had no clue what to expect from this foreign place across the Atlantic. All I could go off of was what others were telling me, so as you can imagine, I pictured a packed city of only Spaniards pointing and laughing at the tourists while they got their fanny packs snatched.
Turns out that’s not the case. Thank goodness.
From what I’ve experienced here in my first three weeks is that the Madrileños are really patient and you can even get by with some “Spanglish” at least while you are still learning. Be prepared, you are going to have those days when you just get tongue-tied and can’t even remember how to say your name in English… but in such an international place as Madrid, Americans and foreigners aren’t anything new. I wouldn’t say it is as diverse as some places in the US, but unless you have two heads I wouldn’t worry about sticking out too much.
As far as pick-pockets go, it’s the same here as in any other big city. Just use your common sense. I imagined Madrid as a more dangerous and dirty place because of this false stereotype. It’s actually one of the cleanest cities I have ever been in, much more so than Los Angeles or parts of San Francisco. Even when we are packed into the metro cars like sardines, nobody has tried to snatch my bag. Not to say it couldn’t happen, but there’s no need to be paranoid.
So basically what I’m saying is that you shouldn’t let others’ misconceptions create your preconceptions of Madrid (or any other foreign place for that matter) because 1.They can be exaggerated and stereotypical and 2. The same city can represent and embody a totally different experience for each person.
Take advice with a grain of salt, and consider where it’s coming from. I wasted valuable time when I first got here because the second I stepped off the plane my first thought was “DON’T LOOK LIKE A TOURIST, ACT LIKE A SPANIARD!” Now I have to say there were plenty of tourists here during the summer, and not once did I see them get spit on or get the stink eye from a local. I mean if I were you I would leave the Hawaiian shirts and socks n’ sandals at home, but don’t waste time being worried about how the city is going to receive you because really, it’s all about how you receive it.
Greetings Earthlings. It’s been nearly three weeks since shining seas, spacious skies and amber waves of grain. If you didn’t catch the “America the Beautiful” reference I won’t revoke your citizenship, but instead encourage you to flip back your calendars with me. Read more
The only thing I am left wondering after the past two months, is where have the past two months gone? I can´t beleive it is almost time to return to the states. Studying abroad has been the best decision I´ve made since going to college. Going abroad literally opens a door to a different world, one that you always knew existed just could never imagine. Check out my reflections from my time in Spain! And if you want to see my other vlogs, you can find them here.