The past four months of my life have been spent exploring the vibrant, welcoming, and (extremely student friendly!) city of Madrid. Before I left Australia I didn’t know what to expect from Spain, I was overwhelmed with excitement and nerves at the same time. When I arrived it was December 31st, the middle of winter in Europe, and what I thought (as a hater of the cold) would be the most unpleasant climate I’d experienced in a long time. Needless to say I was wrong, and that my six layers of clothing weren’t warranted in Spain’s mild Mediterranean winter’s, which aren’t all that much colder than Sydney’s. I chose a good city, I remember thinking.
Since that time, I have learnt what Spain is really about, and what an amazing experience it has been. If i could sum it all up into a few words it would be; socialising, nightlife and culture. There’s not a time of the day (or night) that the streets aren’t bustling with happy people of all ages, eating, drinking and getting along. I also learnt this on my second day, when I made the mistake of sleeping all day due to major jet lag, and so decided to go for a walk at 1am to get something to eat. At first I didn’t like my chances of finding anything open at this hour (Sydney mentality), but I was shocked when I found a cafe with at least 10 people inside eating. Weird at first, but I got used to it, and will definitely miss it.
I am studying at IE University Madrid, a small, but good quality and international student friendly school about 20 minutes from where I am staying. They facilitated an ‘Exchange Student Tapas Night’ in the first week, which made it so easy to connect with people and make friends. Student’s from all over the world are studying at IE, and I have made friends with people from places such as America, Holland, Sweden and France whom I will never forget. I’m currently renting a place in the suburb, or barrio, of Malasaña, which is a charming, fun and youthful neighbourhood renowned for it’s awesome cafes and bars. It’s probably the most funky place in Madrid, full of street art, op shops, and of course hipsters.
The next biggest highlight for me about studying in Madrid, or anywhere in Europe for that matter, is the inexpensive, diverse choices of places to travel you have right at your feet. From visiting Morocco one week you could be at Ibiza the next, (and for a return flight of around 50 euros why wouldn’t you?!). In a week or so I will be heading off on my backpacking adventure around Europe for two and a half months, because let’s face it, it takes 24+ hours to get to Europe from Australia and I probably won’t be able to come back here any time soon. Although…. then again I might! 🙂
I would recommend Madrid to anyone who wishes to go on exchange, and it’s true what they say, studying abroad is an experience of a lifetime!
Amy O’Neill 12039071