Madrid is unlike any other city! Before arriving, I was a little anxious about my study abroad because the furthest I have been outside the United States was to Mexico to visit family and to Canada. That being said, I have never ventured very far from home. My doubts and fears were put to rest because my host family welcomed me with open arms and helped me become situated. In my week and a half being In Madrid, I have learned that people here are very friendly. The city itself is very safe and walking around at night one feels extremely safe. The only thing one has to worry about here is pick pocketing, especially in the metro. The public transportation in Madrid and in Spain in general is incredible so if you decide to come to UC3M for your exchange purchase a madrid monthly public transportation pass, which will allow you to utilize all the forms of public transportation in Madrid and surrounding areas around for only 20 euros for month. Living in Sol, or the city center is the best option because with public transportation (trian/metro) to get to my university only takes 15/20 minutes. My time in the city center is incredible because I get the opportunity to be close to everything and spend my time abroad here the beautiful cities of Madrid.
The country and culture of Spain is amazing but it is very different than the United States. For starters, people here are more laid back, hence their need to take sietas here in the middle of the day! I found this out firsthand in my time here when a group of friends and I went out to eat and the restaurant was closed due to “siesta”. Also, from Madrid many major cities and tourist spots are close so traveling is super easy. To make traveling super easier and stress free, I would recommend using the sites smartinsiders, citylifemadrid, and bemadrid. I have already gone on a trip with smartinsiders and it was amazing because everything was planned and I had the chance to meet other international students! The trip itself was to Salamanca & Avila which is super close to Madrid so we made a day trip out of it! The total cost of the trip was 25 euros, which wasn’t bad considering everything was included. In my time here, I have also gotten the chance to meet other international students after the Orientation day because the University Carlos Tercero de Madrid offers a buddy program that is amazing. The program pairs you up with a student from the university and other international students. In my group we were about 10 and it was great getting to know other people from different parts of the world. I would highly recommend doing the buddy system for those interested in coming to UC3M.
As far as the university goes! I had a bit of an issue when registering for classes but I was able to resolve my issues with ease. The registration system for UC3M is a little different than the United States then that when you choose a class to your cart (add class) it technically isn’t yours because you have to confirm the classes for your spot to be secured. Basically I had planned to take 3 classes in Spanish and one very important class (international business management) in English but unfortunately that class filled very quickly! After this happened. I noticed that this class still had one spot in Spanish so I managed to reserve my seat in that class. All in all, the school is very easy to get used to! Classes are not to far away from each other and here sometimes you finish your class in one day for the week, because your two class sections are on same day. Here one class section will be more of lecture and the other you will have to do more group work and do more practical work. The university also has cafeterias that are delicious and offer a large array of food options, which I would highly recommend going between classes or if you have a break. I have not received books yet but according to my friends at the University one can easily check out books at the library or order the books at store on campus or one campus if need be. Attendance is mostly mandatory for some class sections and some professors are more strict than others. The school here is different than the States because looking at the syllabus they don’t have many tests and quizzes but they do have continuous assignments and a final that is usually worth 50% or more for final letter grade. The school offers Spanish courses outside the main classes offered for anyone interested in picking up the language.