“Drifters, off to see the world. There’s such a lot of world to see” – Audrey Hepburn
¡Hola a todos!
I have officially settled in my apartment in Madrid, Spain and it feels amazing to call the city home for the next four months! I must admit it was nerve racking flying by myself to a city where I did not speak the language or knew a single soul. However, I know that this feeling is inevitable amongst students who are studying abroad.
My first night in the city was spent meeting and getting to know people in my spring cohort. To my surprise, there were a handful of people from my home university. This alone provided me with so much comfort because it felt like there was a little piece of home in each one of them. However, the feeling of homesickness returned towards the end of the night. I am aware of how blessed I am to be able to study abroad, but I could not help missing my family and friends. The unknown and uncertainty of what to come during the next four months was also something that kept me awake.
It was during my first official day in the city that my initial excitement of studying abroad returned. Living in Spain has always been a dream of mine since high school. After finding out that this dream could be realized through the help of scholarships such as the FEA, I spent many months gleefully researching and preparing for my stay in Madrid. My first day here was nothing short of perfection. After a brief orientation, the University Studies Abroad Consortium (USAC) staff took us on a mini walking tour of downtown Madrid. During this tour, it hit me that I was in Madrid and in a few hours, I was going to be moving into my Spanish apartment.
The center of the city was even more beautiful compared to the pictures I saw online. There is something about standing in front of Palacio Real de Madrid, Plaza de Mayor, and Puerta del Sol that makes you appreciate the simple and grand pleasures life can offer. On the tour, we visited Mercado San Miguel where I had paella for the first time and it was to die for! We also walked passed Sobrino de Botín which is the oldest continuously operating restaurant in the world! Unfortunately, they were under construction so we could not dine in. I shall make it a mission of mine to come again before I leave.
The rest of the week was spent with my cohort as we attended orientation and toured the city. I will be starting school this upcoming Monday (January 14th). With that being said, I look forward to this academic semester because of the classes that I have enrolled in. I will be taking Track 1A (Elementary Spanish I/II & Intermediate Spanish I/II), visual journalism, and a four-day field study in the Andalucía region of Spain.
While flying here I thought about what I wanted to write about for my first blog. In addition to talking about my first week in Spain, I wanted to talk about packing and what to expect during one’s journey to their study abroad location. As a frequent traveler, I often found myself repeating and checking off the same packing list that I have perfected over the years.
- Safety and security are perhaps the most important things to think about while traveling. I highly recommend making at least 3 copies of important documents such as passport, ID, visas, credit and debit cards, and insurance (one to keep on you, one to keep in your luggage, and one left at home for your family)
- Just in case, I recommend bringing a small pack of medicines because you never know what can happen
- Setting a travel notice on one’s credit/debit cards
- A universal charger is MUCH NEEDED in any foreign country one visit
- Pack lightly because you will be shopping for yourself and loved ones during your stay
- Lastly, I would purchase a travel journal. I am not much of a writer myself, but I believe that the memories one make abroad can never be experienced again. In addition, I would like to look back one day and relive my adventures through the pages of my journal
Song of the week: “Moon River” – Audrey Hepburn