Madrid almost made me forget that I was STUDYING-abroad

Hello again everyone! I have no one and no thing to blame for my serious delay in blogs, besides myself. But all is well, my study abroad experience is still going incredibly, and I can assure you that my posts will keep on coming!

Since this is a blog about my STUDY-abroad experience, my posts wouldn’t be complete without discussing how my academic experience has been thus far. My hopes are that this information can be helpful to any students who are soon planning to study abroad, or for anyone in general who is interested in knowing what academics are like in Madrid.

If I could fit┬ámy academic experiences in Madrid into two short words, they would be, “very different.” You might think that it’s obvious that I say this, but I really want to emphasize how different they are in comparison to my typical academics back in the United States. For you future study abroad students, it is easy to get lost in the wonders and beautiful new experiences that come with living in a foreign country, but it is VITAL not to lose track of why you are here in the first place. Even for the most level-headed and focused student, it isn’t the easiest of tasks to balance travel & leisure against studying and coursework.

From the beginning of my experience, I knew that I was about to encounter some very different structures of academic curriculums and overall different structures of school life, which was definitely a helpful mentality to go in with. Had I expected my academic experience to be exactly the same as it was in New Paltz, I would have been heading for a rude awakening.

The majority of my classes are held in the Cantoblanco campus of the University, which is unexpectedly located in a dry desert-like area, which is about a half hour train ride from the city central. I actually liked this, since going to class here always allowed for me a nice escape from the hustle and bustle of the busy city central, for a much more relaxed and open-ranged environment. With only two main buildings that hold classes, the overall size of this campus is pretty small, but the trees and mountains that surround it make up for what it lacks.

Cantoblanco Campus

Cantoblanco Campus

The other campus that I have one class in is just a 15-minute walk away from the city central, and is composed of one giant building, that has a very medieval feeling to it. You can see it in the main picture that I put in the beginning of this post.

I won’t get into the dense material of me describing every aspect of my curriculum, especially since every student has their different preferences when it comes to how they learn. Some of my classes are very engaging with professors who have unique and interesting teaching styles. Others fit into what I like to call the “Powerpoint reader classes”. I’m sure some of you know what I’m talking about. I take several classes that are designed for study-abroad students, while other classes of mine are taken with all Spanish students.

One thing I can guarantee is that there is always someone here to help out when it comes to academic concerns. Besides your study abroad advisors who are always just an email away, the university has a host of friendly staff who are always very enthusiastic to help you out.

Overall, my academic experience here has been unique, and definitely a big change from what I am used to. There are some parts of it that I love and wish I could take back home with me. But there are also some parts of it that I’ll leave here. Nonetheless, studying abroad has definitely opened up my mind to different perspectives, methods of learning, and international ideologies. I think it’s something everyone should experience, since I strongly believe it allows you to become a better student, thinker, and person in general.

Hasta Luego,

Aaron Marrero

Don't let my passport picture fool you, I do like this school.

Don’t let my passport picture fool you, I do like this school.

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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