Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Angela C. - Madrid, Spain - Spring 2012


Churros con chocolate and Torilla Española, these are two very typical foods here in beautiful España that I am never EVER going to be able to live without.  Also, the Spanish sun, it is just so great.  There must be something different about it, because he is out to play pretty much every single day, even in WINTER!  These are just two of the many things I have begun to experience in my short month and a half here in Madrid.  My life has been full of adventures here thus far. From school, to food, to the Spanish way of life, random adventures in sightseeing, and back again, there is much to tell.
Starting with school, La Universidad Pontificia Comillas is just a lovely establishment. My campus is just over an hour commute from my apartment in the barrio Salamanca, which I wasn't expecting. However, I have begun using this time to actually wake up and embrace life as I watch the sheep and mountains pass me by as I ride the train out of the busy city into "Northern Madrid," or so the sign says.  Anyways, the people are great, the professors helpful, and the classes are intense.  I have never been academically challenged so much, but am loving every minute of it.  I am currently taking 5 classes, 4 of which are in Spanish.  Here I am mainly studying social work, which means that I am the only exchange student in all 3 of my SW courses.  At the beginning, this was terrifying, and it still is sometimes, but it has been the best possible way to learn!  Every single day I am out of my comfort zone in a sea full of Spaniards learning about how SW works in Spain.  The professors speak faster than I could have ever imagined anyone every speaking, but I have been able to measurably see my Spanish improving by my level of comprehension of each lecture.  That is another thing! The classes here are very very different.  Homework doesn't really exist, which is great! Until you then realize the only thing you will be graded on is attendance (about 20%) and the final exam (80%)...Let’s just say I am a little intimidated for finals to come around, but a guess a little hard work won't kill me (hopefully).
So, I have already talked about the food a bit, but everything here is FABULOUS!  Although I have yet to encounter cheddar cheese, a “real” cake mix, or "normal" hot cocoa, I am very pleased with everything else Madrid has had to offer in terms of food.  YUM YUM YUM!
The Spanish way of life.  This is both a thing of beauty and a thing of much frustration.  Time is casual, no one is going to rush anywhere, and being “on time” is relative.  This is both relaxing and stressful at the same time.  It is relaxing when I am late and stressful when I'm on time! But for real. Sometimes I would like my classes to start on time, or not take random breaks in the middle of a slide during a lecture.  There seems to be far less structured time than is documented.  My schedule says nothing about breaks, but it is most certainly the norm.  Anyways, back to the Spanish way of life.  I have been learning that is ridiculously important to eat a big lunch, take a long siesta, and then stay out very late livin' the dream.  Madrid is very much so about the night life.  On every corner is a person handing out fliers to get in free to some discoteca tonight, or advertizing a new bar with free drinks, or something.  It gets pretty intense.  Here, you shouldn't even think about leaving the house to go out at night before 1am.  However, ya gotta make sure to catch the metro before 1:30 when it closes!
Between school, eating, and learning to live as the Spanish do, I have squeezed in a bunch of sightseeing around Madrid and in Toledo.  It is starting to get warm here, and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the semester holds.
 Welp! Time to run and finish planning my trips to Segovia and Paris with my roomies before heading out for a night on the town!
Hasta Luego. ¡Besitos!
Angela

5 Comments:

Anonymous Karina B said...

I am so jealous right now! I am sitting here at work, reading your wonderful experiences and I cannot wait until Fall to come! Since you said you loved the Spanish food I want to suggest visiting Cafe Iberico when you come back! It is a delicious Spanish restaurant right on Chicago and LaSalle! It might not be as delicious as the REAL Spanish food, but it may help when you start craving it! Have you gone to any other countries? There is a girl in my Spanish class who went to Spain and shared similar stories as yours about the coursework, but she said she loved it! I hope you keep enjoying yourself! Soak it all up!

7:32 PM  
Anonymous Karina B said...

I am so jealous right now! I am sitting here at work, reading your wonderful experiences and I cannot wait until Fall to come! Since you said you loved the Spanish food I want to suggest visiting Cafe Iberico when you come back! It is a delicious Spanish restaurant right on Chicago and LaSalle! It might not be as delicious as the REAL Spanish food, but it may help when you start craving it! Have you gone to any other countries? There is a girl in my Spanish class who went to Spain and shared similar stories as yours about the coursework, but she said she loved it! I hope you keep enjoying yourself! Soak it all up!

7:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am soon traveling abroad, and Spain is a destination! My questions for you are: what are a couple ways you decided what classes to take? Also, how did you handle culture shock, assuming you experienced it?

Thanks!

-Chris F

8:57 PM  
Blogger Amanda Naquin said...

It sounds like you are having a lot of fun. I would be in Spain this semester too but there were complications with the application, therefore, I'm going this summer to Palma de Mallorca. I can't wait!! One thing that I'm worried about is the culture shock because I have never been out of this country alone! How is the culture different in Spain then here and how did you deal with it? How long did it take you to get use to it?

6:02 PM  
Blogger Amanda Naquin said...

Also, how did you decide on what classes to take?

6:04 PM  

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