A Student's Thoughts on the CIEE Madrid Orientation
By: Ana Lucia Medrano Fernández (Wellesley College)
Study Abroad Orientation for CIEE began on Thursday at AC Carlton in a lobby filled with sleepy faces and an endless wave of yawning. Though we were all exhausted from our long flights and confused by the time differences, it was clear that the room was amazed at the fact that we were in Madrid.
After introductions and a short break, we embarked on our first look at Madrid. Although I must admit that my eyes were closed for most of the first day, whenever they managed to stay open for more than five minutes, I became excited that I was surrounded by the splendor of Spanish architecture, life and culture.
After a long siesta, I began absorbing the city. From orientation sessions, la Red de Estudiantes (our Carlos III network), and our experiences during the first week in Madrid, I learned quite a few peculiarities about Madrid culture which have left me feeling prepared for the weeks to come.
Here is a list of the top three most amazing parts of orientation:
1. August 26, 2011 - My 20th Birthday and the second day of orientation. It turns out that while in the US, people buy you drinks on your birthday, in Madrid you pay for dinner and people bring you presents.
2. Tour de Bici por Manzanares - We stopped at an old meat packing house converted into a cultural center. Madrid does not destroy its old buildings; instead, it builds upon its history to create something new.
3. M15 strike - While on a walk through Madrid, a few of us encountered a strike protesting a government plan to amend the constitution. Regardless of the politics, the strike actually looked like a parade. Only in Madrid can you find people with so much life that a political statement is a cause for celebration.
I want to thank Senzeni, Paco, Mariah and Tomás who did a great job at making us all feel at home and at preparing us for the lifestyle that Madrid offers.