Three weeks into studying abroad and I can’t believe the number of beautiful places I’ve traveled to already! In Madrid, I have taken a tour of historic Madrid and the Palacio Real, seen the first floor of the Prado, explored the famous flea market called El Rastro, and taken a walk through Retiro Park, which happens to be about five minutes from where I live. My weekends, however, have been dedicated to exploring outside of Madrid so far.
The first weekend IES Abroad took the Engineering students in the program on a day trip to Segovia, which is about an hour out from Madrid. It was buenísimo; I saw the ancient Roman aqueduct the city is famous for, and toured an Alcázar, the word for a fortress and castle combined. The weekend after I visited Barcelona, and a few of my friends studying there. I saw Park Guell and La Sagrada Familia for the first time, both designed by the famous architect Gaudí, known for the whimsical trademark style inspired by nature. The curves and mosaics incorporated movement and color in such a unique way that it blew me away. Upon walking into the yet unfinished Sagrada Familia, projected to be finished in 2026, I was speechless. The colored glass was lit from outside and glowed. It seems so unreal to visit places I have only heard about that are full of history.
This past weekend I was able to travel to Valencia, the birthplace of paella and one of the first areas in Spain to be introduced to horchata made from chufa, or tiger nuts. I have had horchata made from rice in the United States, but I had no idea it was brought to Spain first through the Muslim influence during their 700-year empire! I visited El Miguelete, a tower in the main cathedral, a science museum, the aquarium, and the beach, La Malvarrosa. The sand was soft and the water was warm, and the sunset was amazing!
While my weekends have been packed, I have, in fact, been attending classes. (Don’t worry, Mom!) I am beginning to settle into my routine of school during the week and traveling or exploring on the weekends. I am taking engineering classes from a prestigious Spanish school of engineering, Universidad de Carlos III. It shows in the rigor of the classes, and the fact that I already have a test this coming week! I'm still finding the balance between exploring and schoolwork, but forming study groups with others in my classes has helped. I also have a list of libraries nearby that I would like to check out, to help establish the routine of doing school work.
As three weeks comes to a close, I know that more adventures (and homework) await!
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<p>Juliana Trujillo is just a girl from Colorado ready to do big things. A love for learning, family support, and food inspired her ambitions to study abroad. She is a Bioengineering major with a Chemistry minor with a passion for promoting STEM equity and equality. In her free time, Juliana loves to read, be outdoors, or read outdoors in addition to spending time with friends and family.</p>