student life

My study abroad exchange in the Spanish capital

Every experience abroad is different for everyone.

Every experience abroad is different for everyone. But there is one thing we all have in common in the end—this year/semester will be one of the best things you’ll have ever done in your life. Some get a knot in their stomach before the start of their exchange; some others will erupt in joy.

You never know how it’ll end up being like, but you know from everything you’ve heard, that what you’re about to jump in what will be a lifetime memory.

My favourite city

My exchange in Madrid was really unexpected. I am the kind of person who will always be keen for a trip and can’t stay too long in one place – but can’t be bothered with too much paperwork. Finally, it came one day that I got a place at Carlos III, one of the six public universities in the city.

When going abroad, I believe the biggest fear people have is to be alone. But on an exchange, you are surrounded by hundreds of other students in the exact same situation than you. People suddenly become shameless, take their courage in their hands and come to you so that nobody ends up being apart.

I never really had anything against Spain, but I wasn’t a fan of the country either. Clichés of late night drinkers and street parties should have given me a hint of its awesomeness, but same for everything, “you don’t believe until you see.”

“Nobody goes to bed in Madrid till they have killed the night!” once said Ernest Hemingway. This gives you a glimpse of how it was like to spend a year as a student in the Spanish capital.

Coming from a year in England, being under the sun 24/7 was a gift from God. We say the sun makes people happy. Well, that is so unbelievably true. That is probably why in Madrid people are such go-getter.

My year there was all about enjoying life. You take the sun, eat tapas, sit in a beautiful green park and drink sangria. It is sometimes difficult to adapt yourself to other cultures but the Spanish way of living appeared to be perfect for me.

My university didn’t seem to be very familiar with Erasmus students as they had no English courses or if they had, they had no teacher with an English that was good enough to teach it. So going to university was mostly about trying to figure out what the lesson was about and planning the evening ahead.

‘A single step’

What was great about Madrid is that it was quite central and made it very comfortable to travel around the country. Erasmus students usually have a lot of free time. Well, either they have it or they just give it to themselves, but in the end, it doesn’t change much!

Having travelled around, I can still say Madrid is my favourite Spanish city. In comparison to Barcelona for example, it kept this traditional atmosphere and Hispanic architecture. You feel like you are right in the middle of locals’ life, doing it the real Spanish way!

My experience in Spain has been crazy in all aspects, from the things I discovered and the people I met to the culture I adapted to and the place I lived in. I would recommend to anyone to go abroad, live a different life, and come back grown up and the head full of memories.

As Laozi said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

What do you think? Have you been to Madrid? Have your say in the comments section below.

Image: davidgordillo / Flickr