There are so many things that will always remind me of the amazing semester I spent in Spain with 13 SMU friends. The study abroad group at la Fundacion became like family, especially Noemi, who was the best coordinator and helped us daily with anything we needed.
The school atmosphere was welcoming and friendly, and I learned so much more because of the intimate class settings. The SMU-in-Spain program organized several trips throughout the semester, which took us to multiple regions of the country and gave me some of my fondest memories.
Living with a family in Spain could have been the most meaningful part of the experience. Carmen, my host mother, became literally like a mother. She would get frustrated when we left clothes on the floor, and we would roll our eyes when she told us for a sixth time what time we were eating dinner. Yet on our Saturday nights out at Pizza Jardin, the bond we formed was evident, and I will always treasure the love and hospitality she gave us over the four months we shared in her home.
I will miss so much the Spanish lifestyle and attitude toward living: working to LIVE rather than living to work. I loved the restaurants with terraces to enjoy beautiful afternoons, and countless bars and clubs open nightly as late as you wanted. Madrid is a vibrant city, and I was blessed this semester to call it home.
Things I didn’t realize about Spain before living there:
• Shopping for shoes and shopping in general is inexpensive and abundant
• Like the United States, every region of the country is unique
• Spanish isn’t even spoken in Barcelona, so Madrid is the place to go when studying abroad
• Spain and Latin America couldn’t be more different, the food isn’t spicy and the language doesn’t always directly translate
• How you order food, when you eat food, and how you eat it is VERY specific; don’t mess it up unless you want to pay more or look like a tourist
• There are thousands of other students studying abroad in Madrid, and it actually bothered me when I heard a lot of spoken English
• Madrid is clean, safe, historic, inexpensive, friendly, and once of the most exciting cities in the world!