It’s crazy to think I have already been in Spain for an entire month! Where has the time gone??
Every since I landed in Madrid my time here has been a whirlwind of going to orientation meetings, trying to find my own apartment, picking out classes to take, getting used to the time change and getting to know some of the other students in the program. I’m still getting used to my new schedule, and I’m hoping that after this next week of classes I’ll finally start to feel like I have a routine down.
Landing in Madrid over four weeks ago now, we started our program living in dorms which are known as residencias. Here we got to know everyone in our program and attended numerous
orientation meetings based on the classes we would be taking, general safety issues, what the program would be like and how to go about finding an apartment.
While living in the residencia, many of us spent hours searching for apartments online in
neighborhoods we wanted to live in and then spent time contacting the landlords and setting up times where we could go and see each apartment to see if we could see ourselves living there. I spent most of my time looking in neighborhoods located not too far from our university and focusing on not going over a certain budget, looking for a place with Spanish roommates and making sure I wasn’t going to be living with smokers. After visiting about 15 different apartments over the course of a week or so, and talking in Spanish with numerous different landlords on if the apartment had wifi, how the utilities worked, how to pay rent, where the other roommates were from and what the rules of the apartment were like, I finally found my home for the year in the charming area of Madrid known as Arguelles. Arguelles is located about 10 mins by bus from the university, and has a student atmosphere with lots of bars, cafes, restaurants and a large park known as Parque del Oeste.
After moving in over three weeks ago or so, I can officially say that I love my place and I’m very happy with my decision. I live with four other students, two guys from Spain, another from Scotland and a girl from France, and we all speak in Spanish, which is exactly what I was looking for. Almost every night we all eat dinner together in our living room and spend time watching different Spanish dramas and talk shows while getting to know each other.
After finding my apartment, the next step was choosing my classes. Our program gave us about a week to attend all the classes we wanted to, which allowed us to get to know the different professors and to see whether or not we were interested in the classes. For these classes, known as Reunidas, we are taught by Spanish professors, in Spanish, alongside other American students. After attending a few different classes, I finally settled on four: a political
science class focusing on politics and economics within Spain, Hispanic literature, a class on the culture and society of Madrid, and a class on the modern history of Spain. On top of Reunidas classes, I am also required to take a class at the Complutense alongside Spanish students since I’m studying in Spain for the whole year. For this class I’m planning on taking a Spanish linguistics class which I’ll have for four hours each week.
So far the Reunidas classes are long and often times it is hard to pay attention for the entire class, especially when every class is in Spanish, but they are all interesting and don’t require too much extra work outside of class.
Besides going to class, I have spent my time exploring the different neighborhoods of Madrid with some of the friends I’ve made in my program, gone to a few discotecas to go dancing, went out for tapas with my roommates and tried to organize activities outside of school such as teaching English and setting up an intercambio to practice my Spanish. On top of getting to know Madrid I have also already had the chance to visit some other cities within Spain, which include Alicante, which is located on the southern coast, and the smaller cities of Segovia, Avila and Salamanca, which are all west of Madrid.
Even though this past month has been crazy busy I’ve definitely been having an amazing time. I still can’t believe I’ve been here for an entire month and that I’m lucky enough to have nine more months ahead of me. Spain is gorgeous and it is so rewarding to discover and explore a new city and see firsthand your language skills improving. I’m incredibly excited to see where this year takes me!