I have been home now for almost two weeks and I cannot believe my study abroad experience is truly over. Most of the time I feel like I am just on another long weekend trip and I will return to Madrid in a day or two and slide right back into my routine, or lack there of. But that is not the case. As I write this I am back in Charlottesville, visiting my fourth year friends for their graduation ceremonies. Just as easy as it is to slide back into the rhythm of things at home, it is here as well.
Madrid: So long, farewell
As I come to the end of my four month adventure in Madrid I can’t help but wish it wasn’t quite over. Living abroad has been truly a whirlwind of an experience, one I would not trade for anything. I feel I have grown and matured more in these months than I could have expected and gained new insights into the world around me that could only come through exploring it myself.
Today I want to discuss one of the most important cultural aspects within Europe that drew me to study abroad, food. I am a foodie by nature. I love to cook and bake, I write for a online food publication at UVA – spoon university, and am always the first to ask for a restaurant recommendation. So naturally, coming to Europe I was beyond excited to travel and try all the local cuisines.
I’ve been really lucky to have made friends from all over the world here in Madrid. IE Business school brings together people from all over the world. I have made friends from France, Holland, Australia, Germany, Brussels, Jordan and of course Spain. Something I enjoy discussing with them is their perceptions of America/Americans.
Generally, things are stereotypical- they think of Americans as fat, think that all we eat is McDonalds and Burger King, and of course that we have crazy politicians. Additionally, they believe we fry everything, have an extremely expensive college system and are highly dedicated to our jobs. The stereotypes they portray are in generally somewhat accurate by my accounts but definitely don’t encompass all Americans.
Amazingly it is already week 6 here in Madrid. I really cannot believe how quickly the first month of study abroad came and went. I think in part it is because of all the traveling we tend to do right when we arrive. As for myself, within these six weeks I have already traveled to Segovia, Toledo and Granada within Madrid, and London and Switzerland (with a hint of France) outside the country. Here are a few highlight pictures from along the way!
While studying abroad is usually a fairy tale of foreign trips, delicious sips, and fabulous pics, there is one aspect many people often forget to discuss, studying. Today I wanted to share my general feelings regarding the struggles of global business, as I have recently completed my first group project for my UVA mergers and acquisitions class.
These projects are simple in theory, find the pre and post merger valuations of a company, decide if the merger is a smart decision and good fit, and make a recommendation to the acquiring firm; however, as my group and I quickly realized this is no easy feat when you are dispersed throughout the world and have to battle busy schedules on top of time change, technology failures, and constant communication issues.
Just about one week ago I arrived in Madrid, Spain and what a whirlwind of a week it’s been. I have begun classes, started conversing with locals in Spanish, tried authentic tapas at 22:00 and found a group of international students who I am happy to call friends. There’s been good, bad and ugly and I am happy to share a brief recap of my week with you.
My first week in Spain has been overwhelming. Getting used to living in a new country is much more difficult than just being a tourist in it. New city, new language, new people, new food, new customs – all of this requires a lot of learning. Studying abroad is kind of like being thrown into a lake and learning how to swim. However, it has also been fun and interesting. I try to laugh at all the mistakes I make (like getting on the wrong bus, speaking in Spanish with awful grammar, and trying to have dinner at the wrong time in a bad restaurant). This makes the learning easier.
I wrote this blog entry as a letter to myself – literally.
In an hour you will arrive in Spain to stay there for five months. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live in such a fabulous country for a long time while you’re still young and don’t have many responsibilities. It has been your dream to visit Spain, and you need to take full advantage of this trip. I want you to accomplish the following three goals during your life in Spain:
1) Learn the language