Destination: Madrid

“I have long believed that any man interested in either the mystic or the romantic aspects of life must sooner of later define his attitude concerning Spain. For just as this forbidding peninsula physically juts into the Atlantic and stands isolated, so philosophically the concept of Spain intrudes into the imagination, creating effects and raising questions unlike those evoked by other nations.”

In almost exactly one month from today I will be arriving in Madrid, Spain to study at La Universidad Complutense for my junior year.

To say I’m excited is a complete understatement. Having known I’ve wanted to study abroad in Spain for years, I can hardly believe that it is almost time to hop on a plane and begin living what has only ever existed in my dreams.

As of the past few months, I have officially applied for, and received a Spanish visa, booked my plane ticket, booked a hostel and have started the daunting task of packing for a year abroad.

So why did I choose Madrid?

The program I chose, which is known as the WIP Universidad Complutense de Madrid, is an immersive program where you are able to take a mixture of classes with American students known as Reunidas along with classes at the Complutense with Spanish students. Not only will this program allow me to be challenged academically, it will also help me improve my Spanish and to live with and meet native Spanish and international students. I will also have easy access to travel throughout the rest of Spain and across Europe.

On the other hand, while I have spent the past month or so collecting and organizing everything that is necessary for leaving the country, I’m also trying to not plan too much in advance, seeing as there is a certain art in being slightly underprepared.

I recently read a book called Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel, in which the author stressed the beauty and opportunity of being “optimistically ignorant” and allowing yourself the freedom to change and adapt your travel plans and goals as different possibilities and opportunities cross your path.

As much as I would love to start planning the ins and outs of trips I want to take and what I want to do in and around the city, I’m instead trying to seek out a balanced preparation. I’ve been taking note of some of my main goals for living and studying abroad, and leaving the rest to fall into place as I adapt to my new home.

Some of these goals include:
– teach English
– find an intercambio
– volunteer
– live in a piso with Spanish roommates
– see all the different regions of Spain
– travel extensively around Europe
– go to a Real Madrid game
– do some solo traveling

In the meantime, I will be getting ready to leave in late August by packing and preparing myself to speak Spanish 24/7, which so far has consisted of listening to lots of Spanish music, reading Spanish news and watching Spanish tv shows like Velvet and El Barco.

While my mind likes to wander to what will be, I’m also determined to enjoy my last month at home with my friends and family and to continue taking on each day as its own.

“It is fatal to know too much at the outset: boredom comes as quickly to the traveler who knows his route as to the novelist who is overcertain of his plot”