Studying abroad in Madrid offered me a learning experience like no other. It was my first time leaving the United States, and instead of simply taking a vacation, I was able to study Spanish and marketing (my major). This made me feel like a citizen of Spain. I had daily routines similar to other working-class citizens and it offered me insight to how people live their day-to-day lives in Madrid. In my opinion, this is one of the best ways to take it all in.
Even though I felt like a tourist my first week or so, I eventually began to harmonize with my surroundings. My host university, Universidad Antonio de Nebrija, offered smaller classes compared to Illinois State, which really enhanced the learning environment. For example, my Spanish class had only five people in it, which forced us all to consistently participate in class. This type of one-on-one teaching style really helped me to polish up on my Spanish skills from high school.
Aside from academics, the style of eating in Spain was something I really enjoyed. The locals eat tapas, which are smaller portions of food, throughout the day instead of having three main meals like in the U.S. Something else that I was fascinated by is that nobody seemed to be in a rush. My peers and I would sit at the same restaurant for two hours ordering tapas and drinks, and it really gave me time to sit back and reflect on things rather than always being in a hurry to do something else.
I would highly recommend to other students to consider studying abroad. At first, I didn’t think a month would be long enough to experience a whole culture, but it certainly allowed me to experience a large part of it.