If you are thinking about taking advantage of studying abroad while at college, Madrid might just be the place for you. Here’s five reasons why:
1. Explore Europe and North Africa
Spain is in a great location in Europe, lying just on the edge of the continent. This means that a small bus, boat, or plane ride can take you anywhere. In Madrid you have direct access to the international airport of Adolfo Suárez. You can go to Germany to experience Oktoberfest or you can go to a completely different continent like Africa and ride a camel. The world is literally at your fingertips. Being one of the biggest countries in Europe, Spain itself has a ton of places you can go, like Barcelona for art, Valencia for the beach, or Segovia to feel like a queen.
2. Relaxation vs. Stress
When it comes to being on time, Spain is the definition of fashionably late. Yes, you still see some people running to catch a metro, but as an American you might find yourself stuck on the street behind someone slow and become irritated. If you have been to New York City before, you can definitely compare that city to Madrid and see that people are not as stressed or in a hurry. What is the best thing you can do? Immerse yourself in the culture and don’t always be in a hurry! This means you can take your time exploring and really enjoying yourself instead of having a stressed-out life.
Lets just talk about fiesta culture for a second. In Spanish, “fiesta” means “party” and for Spaniards going out into the night is a very huge part of their culture. Even though I didn’t go out all the time, I did experience the fiesta atmosphere! Everywhere you turn in Spain there is a bar or discotec. Not to mention that the people live for the night. The nightlife culture doesn’t start until 1am and sometimes doesn’t stop until 9 in the morning! As soon as you step into Puerta del Sol, a plaza in the heart of the city, there are tons of promoters asking to give you a discount (which usually ends up with a free entrance to a club and some drinks to go with it). Every weekend my host mom asked me if I was going out and if I said no she was concerned and tried to convince me to go!
4. Learn a second language
Okay, let’s not avoid the fact that you’re really coming to Spain to study. Yes, you can learn a second language on Lycoming’s campus, but it’s not until you go and submerse yourself that you become fluent. Living in Spain has taught me simple things, but they are things I wouldn’t think to ask in the classroom and probably wouldn’t remember without practicing them. For example, I learned everything from ordering food and asking to go to the bathroom to asking for directions!
Tapas can be a shared snack between friends or an entire meal. If you’re running low on funds don’t fret! Always make sure to find bars that will give you free tapas after just buying one beer, like El Tigre. Or you can even make a trip to Cien Montaditos where you can get a jarra of cerveza and some palomitas de pollo for just 2 euros. The best part about Tapas is that you can go out with a group of friends and order a bunch to share! They typically are referred to as appetizers and finger food, but they will fill you up quick! Tapas are a huge part of the Spanish culture because Spaniards focus on socializing more than anything.
Studying abroad is not only a memory that I will have forever, but the most beneficial part of my education. By being submersed I was able to practice my Spanish every day with every interaction I had whether it be with my host mom, teacher, or a patron on the street. For a language student the best and only way to learn the language is to completely practice it in another country. Not only did I learn about another culture, but I became a Spaniard myself. Now I get to apply what I learned to my studies! The best part is I can tell I learned so much from being back at Lycoming and entering another Spanish class. I know now that I can apply what I learned in the classroom and in my future career.
I am very grateful for the opportunity that Lycoming College gave me to study abroad. If you want to travel to supplement your education like me, or just love to explore the world, check out all the opportunities Lycoming has in the study abroad office! Or, come visit for the day and ask your tour guide about their own cool experiences.