What is the most valuable thing you learned while studying abroad?
I learned so much about all these incredible cultures and traditions from other countries around the world. I gained a much greater understanding in the aspect on how others see the U.S and the way we are portrayed in other countries.
How was it being submerged into a different culture?
It was frightening at first because I didn’t know anything about the country. At the same time, it felt surreal experiencing it the first few weeks. I was in a country that I have always dreamed about visiting and now that I was actually being able to study there was incredible. Locals from Madrid made it so much easier for me to integrate into their community.
What was your favorite memory while abroad?
My whole experience abroad was my favorite memory. Meeting so many different people who I have become close to has to be the best. Meeting them was one of the best things because with them I experienced studying abroad, traveling, and Madrid. I’ve created memories with these people that will last a lifetime, and I’m beyond grateful for those friendships.
Did you experience culture shock while abroad? If so, how did you overcome it?
No, I didn’t experience any culture shock while abroad.
If you could only pick one, what was your favorite thing about your host city/country?
Everyone was so friendly. It was just a friendly community where everyone seemed to know everyone. That made me feel welcomed into the community. Also, Madrid had incredible sights that everywhere you went looked like a beautiful scenery.
Sights and Spots
What was your favorite view/sight?
In almost every park you have an incredible view especially in El Parque del Retiro, there are so many incredible things to see there. Other than that, Madrid is full of rooftop restaurants and most have an incredible view of a part of the city. I would recommend those during sunset, the views are amazing!
What was your favorite spot off the map? (away from common spots)
Madrid is a well populated city so almost everywhere you go there will be many people. Some of my favorite spots in Madrid were the parks. There are so many parks, but the best ones were el Parque del Retiro and Parque de San Isidro.
Must see places
- Parque del Retiro
- Gran Via
- El Rastro (flea market)
- Royal Palace
- Plaza de Cibeles
- Mercado de San Miguel (packed tourists though)
- Museo del Prado
- Parque del Capricho
- Templo de Debod
What types of food are most common there?
Common foods are: Paella, Cocido Madrileño, Tortilla, Bocadillo de Calamares, and Churros con Chocolate.
What was your favorite food?
My absolute favorite food was the Paella which I tried in Valencia (it’s origin), but in Madrid the tortilla was amazing!
Was the food what you expected?
Before going I had the expectations that the food would use lots of seasoning because that’s what I had heard but it didn’t use much seasoning. It was delicious food, seasoned well, and some places exceeded my expectations.
Recommendations and Extras
Would you recommend studying abroad to others? If so, why?
I would definitely recommend studying in Madrid or studying abroad overall. It’s an opportunity for you to have an incredible experience you’ll never forget. There is so much more to the world that everyone has yet to experience. It’s something amazing to learn more about the different traditions and cultures all around.
Did you travel anywhere else while studying abroad?
Where did you visit?
Spain: Canary Islands, Barcelona, Valencia, Segovia, Toledo, & Salamanca; Germany: Frankfurt; Italy: Rome, Venice, Milan; Portugal: Lisbon and Porto
If you had one piece of advice for someone looking to study abroad, what would it be?
If anyone is interested in studying abroad in even the slightest way, I would say go for it! It’s an experience you’ll never forget and always cherish. I was hesitant about studying abroad because of the financial aspects of it; but through the exchange program, that made it possible for me, and I don’t regret not one bit of it. There’s always a way to make it happen. Don’t let anything stop you from this lifetime opportunity that you will LOVE! I would recommend everyone to study abroad now that they have the chance, I’d be ecstatic if everyone was able to experience this opportunity.
What was your biggest fear before you left? How did you conquer it?
Before I left, my biggest fear was going to a new country I knew nothing about, being alone, and how I was going to make it out there not knowing anyone. I conquered it once I arrived by pushing myself to talk more and meet new people. I eventually made tons of new friends from around the world who were all feeling the same way and that really helped me overcome the fear I had.
How has studying abroad affected you the most?
Going abroad has affected my life in such a positive way. Before I left, I was a very shy person who would try not to put myself out there. I would try and avoid new and different situations because that would make me feel uncomfortable. Being abroad has helped shaped my personality, it has helped me drastically get out of my comfort zone, giving me more confidence, wanting to meet new people and being more involved. I learned I wasn’t naturally a shy person that there was a way for me to get out there more and meet new people and do new things.