An Unforgettable Week in an Unforgettable Place

I can finally post my second story on my blog with great rejoice, happiness, and great relief. This first week and few days in Madrid has taught me so many lessons, many of which I learned the hard way. My goal is to share all of the beautiful pictures, videos, and experiences I have on this trip, but I wouldn’t be an honest blogger if I didn’t at least briefly describe the rocky start to my study abroad experience. Luckily, my amazing girlfriend Alexa, who thankfully also knows Spanish far better than I do, was able to help me out as we worked together to get through every challenge we faced.

It started off with every traveler’s worst nightmare. After missing our connection flight from London to Madrid, and after finally arriving to Madrid as jet-lagged as possible, I discovered that my luggage had been lost during the transfer of flights. It was upsetting to say the least, since it completely took away the pure joy and excitement that I should have had after arriving in this beautiful city. After filling out a bunch of forms, Alexa and I decided to head to our housing accommodation and hope for the best with my luggage. Yet when we arrived at our accommodation, we encountered a very disappointing and unexpected living location. The place was filthy, messy and nothing at all like the landlord had promised us and showed us pictures of. Not only did we feel very uncomfortable with the place, but our “landlord” gave us very bad vibes and gave us a lot of insecurity with the fact that he was in control of our money. Once we both rapidly decided that we could not possibly live there, we took immediate action in visiting our study abroad counselors at our host university. They were so kind and were able to help us out incredibly. Before we knew it, the next day we were moved into a beautiful apartment just a few streets away from Puerta del Sol, which I can best describe as the Times Square and heart of Madrid. Oh, and the day we moved in I got a call from the airport that my luggage was found safe and sound. Lessons learned? ALWAYS check out a place in person before agreeing and paying to live there, ALWAYS be aware of the area of your accommodation, and HOPE that your luggage follows you wherever you go.

Besides the unforgettable and honestly overwhelming first few days that I had in Madrid, it is virtually impossible to be in a bad mood while in this city. It’s size is enormous and every single street has the name of a person or a place with a rich and interesting history. Madrid is full of beautiful and grand landmarks, beautiful parks, delicious food in amazing restaurants, and some of the friendliest people you can meet. And yes, there is a lot of wine, a lot of beer, a lot of olives,¬†and a lot of paella. Universidad Pontificia de Comillas, the university I am attending here, is located on three different campuses throughout Madrid, and each of them are stunning. The staff is so kind and helpful, and all of the local Spanish students and fellow international students are very welcoming and friendly. The nightlife here is intense, very encouraged, and overall a blast. Public transportation is super easy to use, and actually more affordable than public transportation in NYC. Although you must absolutely experience the amazing restaurants that Madrid has to offer, I have learned that grocery shopping at the many supermarkets here is the most economical (and very tasty) way to go. Don’t worry, I know I have been brief with the tips and advice for studying abroad so far, but I promise to share a lot more useful advice for all of you future study-abroaders in my upcoming posts.

In only a week, I have seen so much, and I now can fully understand what an amazing experience I am in for. I am so excited to reflect on the awesome things I have seen thus far, take in the beauty of the moment and present, and look forward to the absolutely incredible places I have yet to visit. The best part is, that I don’t have to experience all of it alone. If you ever get the opportunity to visit and experience a brand new country with someone you love, do it. It just might change your life.

I am currently writing this post in the library of my school, and class is starting soon, meaning that this is all for now. Enjoy the pictures, which I hope for now provide a good sense of the beauty of Madrid.

Hasta Luego,

Aaron Marrero

Just a 5 minute walk from our apartment.

Puerta del Sol, just a 5 minute walk from our apartment.

King Phillip III Statue and beautiful and very historic Plaza Mayor.

King Phillip III Statue and beautiful and very historic Plaza Mayor.

Watching a Corrida de Toro (bull-fighting) at Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas. I’ll just provide you with the beautiful arena, since the videos I have of the actual bullfights are pretty graphic.

Standing in front of the Catedral de la Almudena. Oh, and sunsets in Madrid are ridiculous.

Standing in front of the Catedral de la Almudena. Oh, and sunsets in Madrid are ridiculous.

I'm serious, the sunsets here are amazing.

I’m serious, the sunsets here are amazing.

 

 

 

Aaron, a Political Science major and International Relations Minor, has wanted to experience a Study Abroad opportunity in Europe, with hopes of also enhancing his Spanish-speaking skills. He is thrilled to take political and international courses in Madrid, Spain this upcoming semester!

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