Madrid: More Than Just Studying Abroad

Nick Sheppard
June 4, 2019

Hola chicos/as/ques/xs aka all of y’all!

As of this writing I’ve been separated from Madrid for about 10 days.  I say separated because I feel a sense of displacement when I go up to a stranger in Italy or the Netherlands (currently writing from Amsterdam) and feel the urge to start speaking Spanish to them.  It’s hard for me not to think about it, and I get a little sappy and emotional becuase looking back on it, my year in Madrid was nothing short of the best time of my life. I met friends I will never forget, greatly improved my abilites in a language I’ve been studying for practically all my life, travelled around Europe, and I bought my first dress (ok not as big as the other stuff in this sentence but I look really good in it).  This is something that I’m sure you guys have been told about studying abroad, but for real, my world perspective has been broadened.  Before Madrid, I would think about where in the U.S. I might end up to pursue a career—now I’m open to something international, too.

One of the questions that would come up around halfway through each semester between the IES Abroad students would be, “Do you think you could live here?”  In the fall, I wasn’t so sure about it. I kept finding things that were different from the U.S. and picking on those aspects of my experience to answer the question with a pretty doubful, “I don’t think so.”  Then, when I went home for Christmas I was surprised to find myself looking at familiar sights on my drive through my neighborhood and thinking, “This isn’t Madrid,” missing a city I had done nothing but diss. Spring comes around and I appreciate everything more, from the facades of the buildings on Gran Via to the ever…so…slow…service at any restaurant. I thought about that question again: “Do you think you could live here?”  With every new part of the city I walked through or that same old coffee shop I’d been to a dozen times before, that question become a lot easier to say yes to. And now, sitting here in this Airbnb, a thought has occurred to me.  I studied abroad for about nine months in Madrid, yes, but really I lived there for nine months. I had already answered the question with a yes when I decided to go for a whole academic year, and I reaffirmed that yes by walking through a new part of the city or making my way back to that same old coffee shop I’d been to a dozen times before.  

Houston, Texas will always be my home and my city, but three years ago when I came home from my freshman year of college in Austin, I realized I now had two cities.  About 10 days ago when I was watching Madrid fade away from the window of the train I was on bound for Barcelona like it was out of a freaking movie, that number grew to three.   

If you’re thinking about studying abroad, quit thinking—do it.  If you’re about to begin your time abroad soon, get so excited! Know that no matter how long you stay, whether it’s six weeks in the summer or nine months, it’s never enough time.  Just go in with an open heart and mind and I guaruntee you it will be one of the greatest times of your life.

Nick Sheppard

<p>Hiya, beautiful people! I'm Nick Sheppard: a guy who dances in public like it was his bedroom and sings as loud on the street as he does in the shower. I like my steaks medium rare, my go-carts fast, my mornings early, and my nails done. If you're looking for a hug and a smile, I'm your girl. But, <em>cuidado</em>, if you make me laugh, I am a cackler. I'm a firm believer in positivity and never, ever, never ever ever<br>saying "I'm tired". So listen up, children! You might just have a good time.</p>

2019 Spring
Home University:
University of Texas - Austin
Houston, TX
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