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Universidad Pontificia Comillas, Spain

Before moving to Madrid, I had heard so much about what an amazing city it is, so I definitely had high expectations for this experience abroad. After only three weeks of living here, I have quickly come to understand why Madrid is so well loved by so many people. It is a lively city, full of culture, beautiful historic buildings, amazing tapas and most importantly, some of the most welcoming and friendly people I have ever met. In Madrid, the locals really know how to live life to its fullest, whether it be celebrating a fiesta by partying on the street till the early hours of the morning or just staying out late to share tapas or raciones with friends while sipping on tinto de veranos (summer wine) and cervezas (beer).

Whilst on exchange, I will be studying at Universidad Pontificia Comillas, a well established university which has a great reputation in Madrid. Comillas really values the experiences of international students and organises many activities and events which allow you to meet fellow exchange students from all across the world and also make friends with local Spanish students. 

There is a student run association at Comillas called Unity, which organises many great parties, picnics, travel trips and more which means getting to know people is super easy. This is something which already I have found to be so useful, as I have been able to connect with people and make amazing friends even before starting university classes. You often hear of students on exchange struggling to make friends with people from their exchange country, however the Spanish students who run Unity are always eager to meet up for dinner (which here is generally around 9:30/10pm!), meaning I have been able to learn so much more about life as a Madrileño/a and really immerse in the Spanish culture and lifestyle. It is through these friendships that I have learnt about the importance of jamón and olive oil (and the many different types) and also come to appreciate and become accustomed to the small cultural differences, for instance punctuality is not very important here (15 minutes late is acceptable) and the concept of personal space almost doesn’t exist! These may seem like negative observations, but in reality, I love that Spaniards don’t rush time and they are open and friendly to all people. As a foreigner it can be easy to criticise another culture or compare it to your own, however I have found that by making a conscious effort to be open-minded you begin to understand the culture – maybe even to the point in which you start to adopt the customs which seemed strange at first. 

As I continue on my global exchange program in Madrid, I look forward to my time ahead and if the last three weeks are any indication, I know it will be filled with amazing experiences. 

Sarah Rodriguez
Bachelor of Management in Tourism
Universidad Pontificia Comillas 
Spain

For more information about the UTS Global Exchange program please visit: www.global-exchange.uts.edu.au

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