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3 posts from April 2015

04/27/2015

a home away from home

By Olivia Chase

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

One of the things I was most worried about when coming to Madrid was my homestay. “Would they like me? Would I like them? Would I like the food they cooked? Would they be able to understand my broken Spanish?” After almost four months here, I can definitely say that I couldn’t have been placed with a better family. I am living with a family with three young children: ages eight, seven, and three. And while, as you can imagine, there has been one than one temper tantrum, I can truly say that I have found a home here in Madrid.

I participate in family game nights, watch “Bob Esponja” (SpongeBob Squarepants), and sometimes help my new brothers and sisters out with their English homework. To be honest, embarrassingly enough, they sometimes even help me with my Spanish homework. You don’t want to know how many times I’ve heard, “This is what you’re learning?? I learned this is in kindergarten!”

Olivia

 Me reading to 3-year old Cloe

By far one of the best weekends I’ve spent in Madrid was when I went to my host family’s country house about an hour north of the city. When I say country, I really mean country. Besides the house, there was nothing around for miles but pastures and cow poop. We spent the day playing hide-and-go-seek, reading books in hammocks, grilling salchichas (hot dogs), playing a friendly boys vs. girls game of fútbol, and just sitting around the table talking in Spanish. It was such a simple day, but it was the company that truly made it such a memorable afternoon.   

Oli

My family's country house

With only one month left in Madrid, I know one of the things I am going to miss the most is coming home after classes to the sound of Inez and Cloe fighting over the doll they are playing with while Yago is yelling at them to be quiet so he can finish his deberes (homework). It’s the little, everyday family moments I’m going to miss the most. It’s going to be difficult to say goodbye to such a wonderful family, but I’m comforted by the fact that I know we will keep in touch and that I will always have a home in Madrid if/when I return. 

SPANISH FRIENDS?

Lemy

By Lemy Park 

Wheaton College

Depending on your goals in Spain, whether it be just to simply enjoy in a beautiful country with awesome people, advance your Spanish, learn about the culture of football, one way or another you will have the best semester of your collegiate career. Having studied abroad before in Spain, my biggest mission was to involve myself in Spanish activities, friends, and anything that helped me meet Spaniards!

Despite classes and their workload, you’ll have more than enough free time to do all this. I had the opportunity to play on a semi-pro soccer team, help out with a volunteer organization, play on an intramural-like team at the university, serve as an au pair as well. There are loads of opportunities in front of you, and all you have to do is apuntarte (join)! Doing all these things sounds like a lot, but it’s worth it and the friends you’ll make are lifelong. It takes awhile, however, and language barriers, and the fact that we are foreigners, the most important step is for us to take the first step in taking initiative or asking around. At first it may be challenging, we may be shy and what not, but after few baby steps, the comfortability and confidence grow.

For example, with the soccer team, the style of their play, soccer terms, and not knowing anyone definitely made it a challenge, but after few days, a week or two, little by little, we got comfortable with one another. They start asking you out to go hang out with them, to help them with English, go out and party certain nights of the week. I know many of us guiris (Colloquial of what they call us foreigners) will want to simply hang out with our program’s american friends, which is also great and fun, go out and put yourself in a group of Spanish friends.

The world broadens and your perspective of a new culture deepens even further than taking cultural, language classes that the university or programs offer. It really, really helps you with Spanish as well! Be confident and make mistakes, but don’t let them overcome you! Learn to adapt with your own pace and enjoy! Oh by the way, lastly another advantage with Spanish friends is that you find and go to discotecas that not a lot of foreigners are familiar with! 

04/16/2015

LOVING MADRID

Emily01

By Emily Hahn/ Tufts University

I can't believe that it's already April, and I've been in Madrid for 3 months. In the time that I've been abroad, I've experienced so much! I have gotten the opportunity to see much of Spain, including La Mancha (seeing the route of Don Quixote), El Escorial, Toledo, and Barcelona, along with seeing Morocco and Portugal. I have also become incorporated into la vida madrileña, and it's hard to imagine living without tortilla española, cafe con leche, the Prado museum, or the amazing Madrid metro system. 

Emily02I also just returned from spending a week traveling during Semana Santa (Easter week), in which I got to see Paris, Florence, and London. It was so incredible to simply be able to get on a short plane or train, and already be in another country! Here I am seeing some of the most famous things from each city (the Parliament building, the Eiffel Tower, and the statue of David).  

Emily03I had an amazing time traveling throughout Europe during this time, but it does feel good to be back in Spain. During my time in Madrid, I feel that my Spanish has improved greatly, along with my ability to understand another culture and another way of life. I have greatly enjoyed talking to native Spaniards, including my lovely host mother, the university student that I do a language exchange with, and the students in the English class where I am a volunteer assistant teacher. Madrid has become such a home for me during this time, and it is hard to imagine being able to leave it at the end of this semester. I feel so lucky to have experienced so much during my time abroad, and I am sure that even after I leave, Madrid and I will meet otra vez. 

Emily04  

Retiro Park, one of my favorites places in Madrid