Hola! from Madrid
My name is Amanda Ban and I am a junior in the Accounting program here at State. Currently I am studying at Comillas Pontificia Universidad in Madrid, Spain. When I first got here I couldn't take everything in fast enough. The buildings, the people, and the shops are all different. The biggest difference I have experienced is in the daily eating and sleeping schedule here. A typical day begins around 8am and around 2pm they have a siesta, a down time where everyone relaxes or takes a nap and most shops close. Dinner is served late and doesn't start until 8-9pm and if you plan on going out after the night life doesn't start until 1am. The people here are called the cats of Madrid because they don't come out until very late. I am starting to adjust to this schedule and enjoying the local culture. My first weekend I was able to travel to Toledo the old capital of Spain and the architecture there is truly stunning. I am excited to continue exploring the city and others around it. My goal while I am here is to experience all that Spain has to offer, practice my Spanish, try new foods, and visit all of the sites.
The photo attached is from my trip to Toledo.
Madrid & Beyond!
I can’t believe it is already March! On one hand it feels like I just got here and on the other I feel like I know everything there is to know about Madrid. The other day I was walking to class and had a lady ask me for directions and I could actually help her. I am loving how much I am getting to practice my Spainish. There is always something to see or do here, which at times can be overwhelming but such a great experience. For example earlier this month there was a light show displaying the history of Madrid against the buildings in Plaza Mayor, it was breathtaking.
I have also been pretty lucky in the housing department. I live with eight other international students, one from Canada, one from Kazakhstan and the rest from across the States. We all get along very well and it has interesting talking seeing how we all are adjusting differently. My roommates have become some of my close friends here as we have done some traveling together and have more trips planned. I have made friends with some local girls who have been showing me around and will be studying at State next semester where I plan to show them around.
So far I have been to Tangier and Chefchaouen both cities in Morocco, Valencia and Salamanca. All which have been incredible. It is amazing to see all the different types of cities, and see the different norms. In Morocco there is vibrant colors throughout the markets and you can see some of the Islamic influences just walking around. Salamanca was filled with history and more beautiful architecture. Did you know they have one of the oldest Universities in the world? Then in Valencia it was incredible to see how one of the oldest cities in Spain is starting to become more modern by adding their science district.
Well as the name implies there is also some studying that must be done while abroad, so I’m going to get back to it.
In just a little over a month I will be heading back to the States and I’m not sure I am ready to say goodbye. My time abroad has taught me more than I ever expected. Of course, I am learning the materials from class but beyond that I am learning about myself and getting to expand my horizons. I have had the chance to practice working with other students from all different backgrounds, from Argentina to France and The UK. At times it was difficult for us all to get on the same page, but I’ve learned to keep asking questions to get a better understanding of their perspective. Classes here are based on group work which I was not expecting. It turned out to be nice, giving me more free time, and the ability to travel more. Since my last post I have been to Pairs, Basel, Granada, Sevilla, Cordoba and Ibiza. Next, my plan is to visit Budapest, Amsterdam and Lisbon. Traveling has allowed me to connect with a lot of what I have learned in history classes. I have gained a great appreciation for public transportation and local diners.
I have not completely adjusted to the eating schedule here in Madrid. It hasn’t been too much of a problem as it has allowed me to practice my cooking skills at home. I’ve learned it can be really fun to step outside of your comfort zone to try new things. At the same time you do not have to change who you are. Madrid has so much to offer for everyone from museums to parks to rooftop-bars with incredible views and great shopping. If you get the chance to visit I highly recommend walking from the Plaza Del Sol to the Temple De Debod. Along the way you will pass a local market, the Palace, Plaza Mayor, and great little bars where you can eat traditional tapas.
To anyone who plans to study abroad, my advice to you would be to take it one day at a time, and be open to change. Make a list of things you really want to do and do it. You have more time than you may originally think, but do not take it for granted. You will meet some people who you have an instant connection with and others who you may clash with, and that is okay. Understand that almost everyone is outside of their comfort zone and are used to doing things different than you. If you are coming to Spain, be prepared to run on Spanish time. Things open and close several times a day and it is acceptable to be late to most everything.
Thank you for reading and being a part of my journey.