Believe it or not, studying abroad is a lot more than just going to a few classes here and there and then sprinting off to new destinations every weekend. While I have been lucky enough to enjoy a few weekend getaways here and there to explore Spain, I have also found myself to be very busy during the school week now that I am accustomed to a regular, weekly schedule and a daily routine. For me, this routine is truly representative of what it means to study abroad and it is what distinguishes living in another country from being in another country.
So what does a typical day in Madrid look like for me?
Almost every school day I wake up around 7:30 am or so and rush to get ready while downing some coffee before I head off to class. Luckily I live very close to the university so I can walk out my door and across the street to the bus stop and get to class in just under 10 minutes. Once I arrive to class I usually have 2-3 1 and half to 2 hour classes in a row and finish around 1pm. After class is over I often feel exhausted and usually take a siesta before I take on the rest of my day.
In the afternoons, I usually teach english to a few different families in my neighborhood. I have three different girls who I work with who are 11, 7 and 3. While the 11 and 7 years olds have a fair amount of background when it comes to speaking English, the 3 year old, as you would assume, does not. Instead of teaching her we tend to play silly games while I use simple English and Spanish words for her to get used to hearing the language. With the other two girls, I often prepare different games to play or videos and articles to use to practice speaking, while also having fun. While I enjoy teaching English, it is more work than I thought it would be to prepare different activities for each lesson. However, it is really rewarding building relationships with these little girls and getting to know their families. One of the families regularly has me over for dinner so I can help the whole family practice their English while eating traditional Spanish foods and talking about the differences between the US and Spain. Earning a little extra cash here and there doesn’t hurt either!
After teaching English, I usually like to spend my time going on runs in the park nearby my apartment, doing homework, exploring new areas of Madrid and relaxing with some of my friends who live nearby. Since Madrid is so huge you never really feel bored as there is always something new to do or explore. The hardest part is finding the energy and time to see the city while juggling classes and homework.
In the evening, my roommates and I often cook dinner together and eat in our living room while watching the news or some form of a Spanish reality tv show. This is probably the best and most rewarding part of my day because I get to practice my Spanish the most and learn about Spain through my roommates who are more than welcome to share their knowledge of Spanish politics, economics and culture with me. We have had our fair share of discussions about our thoughts on Donald Trump, gun laws, immigration and Spanish political corruption, while sharing plates of paella, spanish tortilla and other traditional foods. It is safe to say that I have learned more about all three of these topics from my roommates than I have in my classes!
By the end of the day I am normally completely drained of energy and I try not to stay up too late in order to avoid having to take a daily siesta after class.
In the next month I have many weekend trips planned to explore other countries in Europe and I will have to be very focused during the school week to get all my homework and projects done before the end of the semester. Here’s to hoping I can focus on my studies and not get too distracted by all my adventures to come!