I have been in Madrid, Spain for a month now and so much has happened!!
My arrival in Madrid was very different than I expected. The flight went well; however, when I got to my room in my apartment, a shared apartment with 6 people, I saw that someone was currently living in my room! The apartment was in very poor conditions, dirty, and even though they promised a living room, there was no living room. After talking with the agency, they told me that the person who is occupying my bedroom will be there until the end of January. They relocated me in a small room in the same apartment, but it was in very poor conditions. I never got the key to my bedroom and was the only girl in the apartment, so I felt very uncomfortable spending the night there. Luckily, I had a friend in Madrid who was able to host me for the rest of January. One morning, I went to the apartment to pick up something and saw a guy sleeping in my bedroom! After this incident, I knew that I could not stay in this place. I was able to find a new place and moved-in in February. The place is much better, spacious, cleaner, and my flatmates who come from all over the world are very nice!
Because of my apartment situation, the month of January was very difficult for me. I felt like I couldn’t settle in Madrid properly and was constantly stressed over the apartment situation and if I would get my money back. Even though it was tough, it all worked out in the end and I am now able to fully enjoy life in Spain.
School has been going well! I got all the classes I wanted and only have to go there three times a week because I have both Tuesdays and Fridays off! This gives me the flexibility to travel more and explore many places. Universidad de Carlos Tercero is located in Getafe and it takes me about 50 minutes to get there with public transportation. I prefer to live in the center than near the school because so much happens in the center and there is a lot to do.
I am taking two classes in English and two in Spanish. The ones in English are very easy, while the ones in Spanish are more challenging but doable! I am glad I chose to take some courses in Spanish because it really helps me practice my Spanish. Speaking of Spanish, I speak less frequently Spanish than I expected to. Here at UC3M, there is a bit of a division between the Spanish and international students. The Spanish students aren’t very interested in meeting internationals and the internationals stay together because they can share more things they have in common. If you want to practice your Spanish more, I would recommend you to take some classes in Spanish or live with a host family.
Lastly, during my stay here, I have had the great opportunity to travel! In Spain, I have been to Toledo, Rascafria, Granada, and Sierra Nevada. Toledo is a beautiful town near Madrid and used to be the capital of Spain! You can go for free with the metro card and it is perfect for a day trip. Rascafria is a two hour bus ride from Madrid and is perfect for a hiking day trip. Granada is in the south of Spain and you can go see the Palace of Alhambra there. Sierra Nevada is a mountain region right next to Granada, and we got to play in the snow all day long. The great thing about being in Europe is that you can travel to other countries for cheap. I went to Paris a couple days after I got to Spain to visit my family and friends. I just got back yesterday from a four day trip to Portugal. I spent the first two days in Porto. The city is beautiful and very authentic; however, a lot of the apartments are abandoned because of real estate laws they had in the past. The city is now doing better because of tourism and is reconstructing itself. One famous thing in Porto is Port wine. I had the opportunity to do a Port wine tasting tour where they take you to three different cellars and wineries to teach you the history about Port wine, how it is made, and how to taste it. I then took a bus to Lisbon and spent two days there and it is very different from Porto. The city is way bigger and industrialized; however, the houses are beautiful and colorful. I highly recommend going to the St George Castle because it has a beautiful view of Lisbon.
For the upcoming months here, I hope to travel more, discover the Spanish culture more deeply, and meet more people. If you have any questions about studying abroad, don’t hesitate to shoot me an email at: email@example.com!