So after much convincing and persuading, I was actually able to extend my trip until a few days after the New Year’s! I expected to make friends during my time in Spain, but I hadn’t imagined myself actually extending my trip by 10 days just to spend time with them and make this amazing semester last a little longer! In the end, I am so happy that I made the decision of spending the holidays in another country. While I did miss my family and friends back home, I knew that spending such a special time like the holidays with this unique group of people was essentially a once in a lifetime opportunity.

After the stressful time of finals passed, I felt like I was finally able to enjoy Madrid again, which at this point definitely feels like my home away from home. The first half of December flew by since I spent most of my time just preparing for final papers and exams. I was able create some final last memories with my friends, since people were beginning to go home. I was incredibly sad to say goodbye to my Costa Rican roommate, who had become one of my closest friends throughout the semester. However, I know if I ever find myself in Costa Rica, I have a place to stay! I have to say, one of the best parts of this entire trip has been just making friends with people that I otherwise would have never met if I hadn’t decided to spend a semester in Madrid. I feel so happy that I met such a group of different and interesting yet like-minded people. While we all had different backgrounds and unique traits because of where we grew up, we all shared the same passion for life, travel, and ambition.

Christmas was a completely different experience than I had ever had before. I spent Christmas Eve at my friend’s apartment in Plaza Mayor, which is sincerely one of the most beautiful places in all of the city. Instead of the traditional turkey and ham that we eat in America, this time I found myself eating chicken, risotto, salad, king’s cake, and gluhwein. I had a lovely time with my friends, whom I will always remember as my Spanish family.  We spent the night laughing, chatting, and we may or may not have had a 30 minute lip syncing session to songs from our childhood (Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, etc.).

New Years was another sweet experience in which I was able to try out a very uniquely Madrid tradition. At midnight, my friends and I went to the plaza Puerta Del Sol (the center of the city) and counted down until the New Year while eating a grape for every second when it was 12 seconds until 12:00. I guess you could equate it somewhat to the ball dropping in NYC.

Now that my trip is at an end, I can’t help but think how insanely thankful I am that I followed through with my dream of studying abroad in Spain. I always knew it was something I wanted to do, and finally doing it just reaffirmed the notion of living the life you imagine for yourself. My experience was everything that I imagined for myself and more. I made connections with people from countries all over the world, visited breath-taking sites, learned more about myself and the world, and created memories that I will always look back on for the rest of my life.

I’m already dreaming up the next way that I can visit my friends and travel to new places. Spain will always hold a special place in my heart, and I already miss this beautiful country that gave me so much.

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Categories: 2015, Reciprocal Exchange, Spain


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I would start with petty introductions but I don’t think that is why you are reading this blog. All you need to know for now is that I am a business student from TAMU and my name is Madison. I am currently sitting in the dining area on the first floor of BI Norwegian School of Management (the University I am attending here in Oslo). For those of you reading this and preparing for your trip abroad, listen closely, I am about to drop extremely valuable information in your lap and I suggest you sit while reading this. The first couple days of any trip are excruciating and you will probably cry at least twice, but I promise if you can survive those couple of days you will not only feel accomplished, but very close to the place you are staying. I arrived on the 2nd of January after about 19 hours of travel, not including the 7 hours lost. If you chose to live in certain buildings, like Nydalen Sio, you must travel, with all of your luggage, to Blindern to get your house keys and if you are extremely lucky, you may wait an hour; I waited over 3. After lugging 120+ pounds of luggage uphill to the office and waited in the freezing cold for about 3 hours I sat in a bathroom stall and cried, wondering why I was brought here, I prayed to God to bring me someone or something to make my day better, to get me through what seemed like the worst day of my life. 10 minutes later I met one of the nicest young ladies I will probably ever know who got me to my room and carried my 50+ pound bag to my room uphill, as I dragged behind.

From that moment on, everything seemed uphill from there… but then I locked myself out. It’s shameful how silly I can be at times. The next day I went on a bus tour that I signed up for (sign up for things like this if you have an opportunity, not only do they show you around and give you tons of ideas for adventures, but you will probably meet good friends as well).  At first I was a little hesitant to go and I definitely contemplated staying in bed, but I got there and after a quick introduction I met some people I see every day now. After the bus trip, my new friends and I had the greatest dinner I may have ever enjoyed, and we were in Burger King. Burger King is so much prettier her and the french fries are much better too. 😛 We went to IKEA after that, IKEA is huge here because it is soooo cheap compared to everywhere else. We also found a beautiful frozen lake very close to kringsjå, where a very large chunk of the international student live, and many local students and families as well. It was so beautiful and people were ice skating and building campfires and walking their dogs. It may have the been the most beautiful piece of scenery I’ve ever witnessed.

Although the days are very short and the nights are quite cold, this place is beautiful in every way and I have already fallen in love. The most confusing thing I have learned so far, and the most useful, is the public transportation system in your place of study. Public transportation is probably the greatest tool you will have on your stay. Oslo is quite small and I learned fast, but I still make mistakes now and then. One thing I wish I would have done is pack some food or snacks. The food is quite expensive and I did not have an opportunity to buy groceries until the next day, so I went about two days on nothing but tap water… So, even if it is just some packages of peanut butter crackers, I promise you will be grateful for them. I know some of what I have said seems horrific, but I feel it necessary to be honest and help people prepare with as much knowledge as possible. Knowing these things may help someone make better decisions than I did about packing and food and what not.

I would go through all of this and more again and again if it left me in the most beautiful country I’ve ever seen, surrounded by the most kind and welcoming group of people that resides here, especially my international friends. So though I warn you based on my early experiences, I also challenge you to take a leap of faith and go somewhere you’ve always wanted to go, or maybe even never wanted to go. I’m sure your will find people and go through experiences that you can truly cherish forever. Well enough of the serious talk, vi snakkes friends!

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Categories: 2015, Norway, Reciprocal Exchange