Guide for an Idiot Abroad: Madrid Edition

In The Art of Travel Fall 2015, Madrid, Tips by Maggie Boreham

So as the semester is winding down (I seriously don’t know how there is only one more week of classes?!) we’ve been asked to make a post about tips for future students and travelers to our abroad site. So, I present to you, Maggie Boreham’s first ever “Guide for an Idiot Abroad: Madrid Edition”

Hi – so you’re thinking about traveling to Madrid eh? Well, you’ve probably got a few questions, I know that I sure did. No worries, expert traveler (lol) Maggie Boreham has got you covered. Here are some common concerns and answers for you:

Should I study in Madrid?

Great question. Yes. Yes you should. However, I’m not going to lie this site is really only beneficial if you’re trying to learn Spanish. If you want to learn German, French, or Italian the capital of Spain probably isn’t the place for you. Most of the classes offered here are Spanish language or culture courses.

What do you wish you knew before arriving in Madrid?

I honestly wish I knew two things: (1) That Malasaña is the best neighborhood, especially for coffee shops, bookstores, places to study, and of course bars (2) If you want to see Real Madrid play FC Barcelona in El Clásico… buy your tickets in advance. Unless of course you have $2000 of pocket change your willing to drop on a ticket then yes by all means wait until the week before the match.

What were the biggest problems you faced?

My two biggest problems I faced were, (1) feeling like I didn’t have enough time to experience Madrid. How might one solve this? Stay a year if possible and don’t take 18 credits as tempting as it may be. Part of the study abroad experience is enjoying cultural emersion which is difficult when you have packed yourself with such a heavy schedule you can’t enjoy yourself. And (2) being a vegan is impossible in this city. If you have any strange dietary needs such as myself, please learn how to cook for yourself before departure, or alternatively, find a roommate willing to cook for you.

What do you think you will do differently when you return to New York?

Back in NY I have a really set and structured schedule, however here in Spain I’ve adopted their way of life in which it’s totally fine to hit the snooze alarm one, two, even five times, and arriving five minutes late to something is still considered on time. I expect this to be a difficult adjustment… but not as big an adjustment as the financial differences between the two cities. I most likely will never go shopping in New York again and in terms of alcohol, forget it… after paying a euro for an entire bottle of wine in Madrid you won’t catch me paying $5.50 a glass in NYC. Lastly, I think I’m going to be throwing out a lot of Spanglish when I return, saying “pardon” whenever I bump into people on the street.

What will you take note of at home that you hadn’t noticed before?

Again… how much things cost and just how broke I am. This is going to be a sad readjustment.

What do you think you’ll remember years from now?

Honestly, the traveling around Spain and the rest of Europe. So much (except Dubrovnik which requires a 20 hr flight for a minimum of $500) is accessible from Madrid. How do I know this will stick with me? Well I got a tattoo this week that says “Viajera” which literally is Spanish for traveler (#basic), so no I don’t plan on forgetting anytime soon.

I hope that as you embark on your journey you are excited to take on what this beautiful country has to offer. Buena suerte!!

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  • Squad: Jenny Han