From Here to Anywhere: Madrid
Of all of the cities in the world, I chose Madrid as my study abroad city. How did I do it? How could I possibly choose just one place, out of all the incredible, exotic locations?
First of all, I didn’t. I chose Madrid, yes, but my perspective is that one should view the study abroad city of choice as an expansive opportunity rather than as a limitation. Living in Madrid, I experience weekly life like a local Madrileña, but, for an American student studying abroad, weekends are almost always for traveling. One highlight of Madrid in particular is that it has fabulous public transportation. Clean, safe, convenient, cheap, and reliable, the buses, metros, and trains are great for getting around the city, the country, or off to the airport. I’m taking classes in Madrid, yes, but I’m also able to constantly move throughout the entire country of Spain and continent of Europe.
Another huge influence in the decision making process for me was that I had already visited Madrid and made connections there before I even began looking at colleges or study abroad. This is a bit out of the ordinary compared to most other experiences of spending a semester away, but for me it played a very important role. I already knew that I loved the environment of the big city, and I already had some great local friends that I could spend time with here. But either way, what I’ve discovered is that with cities like Madrid, you can come back a million times and they will always feel new and eccentric and exciting.
Even before I had been to Madrid the first time, I had always wanted to live in a Spanish-speaking country, because learning like a local and fully immersing myself in the Spanish language has always appealed to me. In this instance, the weather was also a huge draw, as well as the fashion tips that I knew I could pick up from the European locals. Strangely enough, the food was not a huge factor, but it’s hard to go wrong with food these days as many of our favorite food chains have gone international. So even if you’re not a fan of the typical Spanish cuisine, you can always find a taste of home somewhere downtown, especially in a city like Madrid that brilliantly caters to their large tourist population.
Madrid was a wonderful option for me, it has already allowed me to grow, and I feel like a pro, buzzing through the metro and strutting down Gran Via. The most important part of choosing a study abroad experience is going with your gut and taking the leap. Most people only get to do this once in their lifetime, so it’s best to go head first, give it your all, and fall in love with your destination…wherever that may be, whether you’ve been there before or not.
Sarah U. is the Fall 2016 CEA MOJO in Madrid, Spain. She is currently a sophomore studying Songwriting and Spanish at Belmont University .