Saludos desde Madrid!
November 4, 2014
Blogger: Claudia Dumpson
As a prospective student, I fondly remember sitting in front of Weingart on a tour, hearing about
studying abroad and thinking how wonderful of an experience it would be. So when the
opportunity came to apply the spring of my sophomore year, I chose to apply to a program
called IES in Madrid, Spain. As the summer came to an end, the reality that I would be so far
from home for so long began to sink in. I was definitely excited but mostly didn’t know what to
expect and even wondered a little if I had made the right decision.
The first week or so in Madrid took some getting used to due to a few key differences in
Madrileña culture. For one, the eating schedules in Spain are very different. Breakfast is early in
the morning and is usually just cereal and fruit (no Marketplace huevos rancheros for me).
Lunch is around three in the afternoon and is the largest meal of the day and dinner isn’t until 9
or 10. Another main difference is the reliance on public transportation and walking. To get to
school, it’s 5 minutes to the Metro, a 25 minute Metro ride, and then a 15 walk from the Metro to
the IES center. Just a little bit harder than walking from Newcomb to Johnson. And ah yes, let’s
not forget that they speak Spanish here. All of my classes, all of my interactions in restaurants
and stores, and all of my conversations with my host family are in Spanish.
There are still some days when I crave the comforts of home (mainly In-N-Out and my dogs) but
I’ve been here for two months now and Madrid is definitely feeling like another home away from
home. I’ve seen most of Madrid’s famous, beautiful and historic landmarks. I’ve had weekend
trips to Segovia, Bilbao, San Sebastian, Toledo and Barcelona. However, for me, the most
amazing thing (and perhaps seemingly the most obvious) about being abroad is feeling like I
actually live here.
I was recently talking to someone who said they wanted to go abroad, but that they were scared
to be so far away from home, and I know this a common sentiment of those deciding whether or
not to go abroad. To those people I would say yes, the idea of studying abroad was (and still is)
scary and weird and overwhelming and anyone who says that it’s not is lying - but it’s more than
worth it. And in the end, the things that scared you the most will be the things that make your
experience all the more amazing.