So, here we are, at the final chapter of my Madrid adventure. I had these grand plans of posting regularly about my time here, but I’ve always been better at pouring out my emotions at once after letting them simmer and marinate. And here I am, in the midst of my writing groove, penning down the final reflections on my time.
December was an absolute whirlwind of activity. It was a rollercoaster of midterms for my UC3M classes, finals for IES, and a dash to Paris and Brussels on my last weekend in Madrid. Midterms for my UC3M classes collided with finals for IES Abroad and were followed just days later by UC3M finals. To complicate matters, I’d also squeezed in a last trip to Paris and Brussels on my last weekend in Madrid, and hastily attempted to organize goodbyes and farewells to all the people I’d met, especially my Spanish friends at UC3M, who I’ve been grateful to share quite a few adventures with (visiting the high school where the Netflix series Elite was filmed, running around a trampoline park on the outskirts of Madrid, watching broadcast F1 races, discovering a shared love for Pride and Prejudice). As I sit on the brink of returning to Duke, it's surreal that only two weeks have passed since I bade farewell to Madrid. In some strange way, it feels like I might wake up any moment in my little red dorm room at Emilia Pardo Bazan. I can almost visualize the walk to the Vicente Alexandre metro stop, passing by the gastro bar, skirting the roundabout, and strolling past the expanded college bar—now with a revamped space for millennials and older couples to enjoy dinner. Vicente has that quirky charm, you know?
Despite my initial qualms about the study abroad experiment, I can genuinely say I loved it. Those four months in Madrid (and beyond) became a rare interlude in my life, where I allowed myself to unwind and take a breather. It was all about embracing the joy of exploration, dressing up just because, roaming a city without a care, dancing, learning a language, and discovering the nuances of traveling. It was about getting lost, feeling out of place, and then finding my own little corner of the world. Going in with the intention of taking a break, I actually lived up to those words more than I thought I would. And trust me, it's a must-do.
Even though I was one of the very few doubly displaced international students on this journey, it added an extra layer of uniqueness to my experience. I often felt like I was traversing an entirely different cultural landscape, navigating through thoughts and impressions that were uniquely mine. Spain taught me some valuable lessons about myself.
First off, I discovered that I'm not the greatest at keeping in touch with people. Secondly, I always assumed I'd despise constantly moving around and adapting to new places. To my surprise, I found immense joy in the reinvention and rediscovery that comes with a change in environment. It's like peeling off layers of your identity and finding untapped aspects of yourself. Number three on the list—I get bored pretty easily. Not in a fickle way, but the idea of stagnancy terrifies me. Now, the love-hate relationship with writing and prose. I've always loathed being judged on my writing by teachers, resisting conforming to structures and catering to someone else's whims. Yet, paradoxically, I've put off writing these articles only to feel an immense sense of happiness and relief once I've spilled my thoughts onto the screen. Lastly, this one’s weird, but it kind of became a very integral part of my adventure – I've developed a die-hard fanaticism for Formula 1. Yeah, you heard that right. Blame it on Europe and the ever-present Formula 1 spirit. I never saw that coming in a million years.
Madrid, you've been a whirlwind of emotions, lessons, and unexpected discoveries. Until next time, adiós!
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My name is Eeshta Bhatt and I'm originally from Mumbai, India. An avid reader, writer, and dancer; you are most likely to find me sipping coffee with a fantasy fiction novel, watching a murder mystery or charting out new runnining trails.