Well it has been about three weeks since arriving here in Madrid, and I have already learned and experienced so much in that short time. It took quite a bit of adjustment at the beginning to get used to the different lifestyle here in Spain. For example, I figured that I would easily be able to acclimate to the laid back, relaxed Spanish lifestyle, however, it was easier said than done when I was trying to locate my lost luggage and make sure I would be able to register for classes and the Spanish approach to communication is very different from America in that they take their time to respond. Yet at the same time it is very refreshing to live in a place where there isn’t much sense of rush or urgency because it allows you to really be present in the moment and enjoy time with friends, which is something I especially value while studying abroad because we have such a limited amount of time here.

As for Madrid, it’s very cool because it is so diverse. Each neighborhood and area of the city is different and has its own character.  Chamberi is a quieter more urban feel but take the metro to somewhere like Sol or Gran Via and then you’re surrounded by old timey architecture and restaurants and shops galore! Speaking of the metro, it’s great because it keeps the city very connected and is very easy to navigate, however, sometimes it’s disorienting because after taking the metro you just pop out of the ground somewhere and so I am never able to get my general geographic bearings in relation to the rest of the city. It’s fun to just walk around though also because you could turn a corner and feel like you’re in a completely different city because the architecture is different or the quiet cobblestone street you were walking on has turned in to a bustling city center. I wasn’t expecting Madrid to feel so modern but it is a really cool mix between contemporary city life and old town Europe.

My favorite part of Madrid by far though, definitely has to be the fashion! The young people are so stylish and make it look so casual and effortless all the time. I love how they wear sneakers with everything from boyfriend jeans and an over sized sweater to a beautiful long sundress and that everything is platform: sandals, converse, even Birkenstocks! Both trends are such fun ways to spice up an outfit but still be comfortable. Not only are their clothing choices effortlessly chic but their hair and makeup are as well, the style here is all very natural looking. Most young women here wear their very long hair down and in its natural style and pair it with very simple demure makeup if any.

After a week and a half of spending our days exploring Madrid and adjusting to the Spanish lifestyle school finally started. At UC3M international exchange students don’t register for their classes until they get there so two days before classes officially started we used an online registration system to sign up for our classes and the nice part is Non Eu exchange students can sign up for pretty much any course regardless of major or year, the tricky part was making your schedule because the classes are not blocked like A&M where they have Monday-Wednesday-Friday classes and Tuesday-Thursday classes, here one class might be Monday-Tuesday and another Tuesday-Friday. However, after a week of trying out different courses and adding and dropping I finally figured out a schedule that I liked. Another thing we had to figure out in regards to school was our commute. My roommates and I live in the center of Madrid and UC3M is located in Getafe which is technically a city on the outskirts of Madrid so it takes a 15 minute metro ride and a 30 minute train to get to the campus and the first time we tried to get there we took the train the wrong direction and had to call an uber in order to make it to our class on time. Now I have come to enjoy my morning and afternoon commutes as I often spend it listening to music or reading a book. I also really like the UC3M campus in Getafe! For our orientation we had to go the UC3M Leganes campus and though it was nice it was tiny and the Getafe campus is not large by any means especially compared to A&M but it is very pretty with red roofed buildings and numerous courtyards covered by trees where there are always students hanging out passing the time between classes.

In closing, Madrid has been full of surprises and I can’t wait to see what else this city and this country have in store for us we continue to explore and experience its rich culture throughout the rest of the semester.

 

 

The Royal Palace of Madrid