As my time in Madrid comes to an end (at least for this time around), I can’t help but feel nostalgic about my experiences here. I’ve done so many wonderful things that many people will never do and I’ve met some incredible people; I’m so fortunate to have had my time here and I will cherish it for the rest of my life. I never could have imagined when I came here that I would do some of the things that I did, or find such close friendship. I know that if I had come into my time abroad with any sort of expectations or plans then I would have missed out on a lot of amazing experiences and perhaps would’ve been disappointed by things didn’t live up to their hype. It’s incredible being in another land but realizing that you’re still human; just because the place is magical to you doesn’t mean that you can’t have bad days there or that everything will always be easy. Overall, I’d say that even just a handful of the amazing moments make up for all of the wrong turns, and I guess they really weren’t so bad, either. Getting lost and having tough days made it all more real and showed me the most about myself. I learned how to be calm and how to relax and that sometimes you find better things on the way to a place than you do at the actual destination. Sometimes the wrong turns lead you to awesome restaurants or surprise encounters with friends or enchanting views that you might have missed otherwise. It gives you the chance to find out new things about the place you’re exploring. It forces you to be humble and ask for help or look at a map. It also allows you to slow down a bit. If you have the time, and I encourage that you make the time no matter where you are, it’s a beautiful thing to get lost and find yourself. Of course, you shouldn’t spend every minute of your time lost; don’t be afraid of a little bit of routine. Every day that I had class I walked the same route from the metro station to the Colegio building just before 9 in the morning (at least, when I was able to get our the door on time). I walked through a beautiful park and each morning I passed a lot of the same things: joggers and dog-walkers and sleepy students and the arch of Victoria and the statue of that guy on a horse and the tall Faro (Lighthouse, in English). I got to watch the leaves change with the fashion; the hot summer months were replaced by those of the rainy fall, but my walk stayed the same and was still just as beautiful on the last day as the first. On the day of my last IES Abroad final exam, I went to the top of the Faro with my best friend from the program at sunset and it was probably the greatest decision we made that day (although the margaritas after our exam were pretty good, too). It was humbling to look out over the city and see all the things we had done and all of the places we had been. We recounted memories and got to see the crazy paths we had taken from a new perspective. It felt like we had come full-circle as we watched the sun go down on the city that we’ve called home for the past few months. I leave you with three pieces of advice for any situation you may be in, whether you’re going abroad or going around the block: throw away your expectations, get lost while you still can, and enjoy the sunset. That’s all for now. Hasta luego, Madrid.
Mariah is a free-spirited adventurer from the University of Rochester. She spends much of her free time either planning her travels around the world or travelling. Wherever she is Mariah enjoys trying new foods, singing the wrong words to music, and exploring with friends. Her favorite part of the week is when she faces the crowds for fresh food and great deals from open air markets; in her opinion, bargaining is a universal language.
One of the coolest things I’ve found about studying abroad with IES Abroad is how I’ve been able to discover the coolest places that I wouldn’t have found on my own! You have field studies and day trips for most classes, which are actually super fun and cool.
After being in Shanghai for only a few weeks, I have started to get the hang of the food situation. However having an allergy in a place where few to no people have dietary restrictions is quite challenging.
In two short trips of the course of the past two weekends, I have experienced some of the incredible geographical and meteorological diversity of Morocco. Last weekend, we had our IES Abroad group trip to the Sahara.