The countdown is on! One week until I depart for Madrid.
The past few months have been filled with countless hours of planning and a whirlwind of emotions. But the day is almost here! Here is a little overview of what my study abroad experience will look like.
January – July I will be studying at Universidad Complutense de Madrid in Madrid, Spain. The university sits in the heart of the city and boasts a whopping 100,000 students. The university has no on-campus living dorms, so all students live in the city and take the subway or bus to school.
Also, all my classes will be taken in the Spanish language. Earlier this year I had to take a European language exam to determine my language proficiency. I (somehow) passed the exam through an interview process, which was vital to be accepted into the University.
What am I taking to Spain? As much as I can physically handle! I have one large suitcase and a carry-on. When I arrive in the Madrid airport there will be no services to help carry my stuff or take me to my living arrangements. My plan is to grab a taxi, and kindly ask (in Spanish, of course!) the driver to take me to my apartment building where I will wait to meet the landlord. I need to pack as much stuff possible for the change of seasons, but little enough so my tiny arm muscles can survive.
I have recently been anticipating everything that could occur on my first day in Spain. I am aware that once I meet with the landlord and get settled in my apartment, I will be completely on my own. Some things that are on my to-do list include setting up a Spanish phone plan and purchasing a month-long metro pass to have transportation around the city. I also need to wander around and find some sort of market to buy a few groceries.
I have two whole weeks to get settled in the city. After that, I will be attending an “Exchange Student Orientation” where I will be able to enroll in my classes and learn important things about the University. I have also signed up to take a two-week Intensive Language Course through the school. I will be taking a proficiency test upon arrival and they will place me in the class level that best suits. This class will surround me with other students in my same position, but from all around the world. My real classes will begin mid-February.
As you can see, this is mostly an independent trip. I don’t know of any other American that will be at this University. I am also not going through any study-abroad company that makes all the accommodations for me. I have made all plans on my own, such as obtaining a student visa, finding an apartment, booking a flight, signing up for travel insurance and so on. This process has already been the largest learning experience, and I haven’t even boarded the plane yet! As overwhelming as it has been, I am proud that everything has finally fallen into place. It makes me so excited to see what the next 6 months have in store.
A HUGE thank you to all my friends/family who have been so supportive of this adventure and have encouraged me to share this blog! I am hopeful that it will help me journal throughout this experience, as well as serve as a comfort to my mom so she knows I am still alive. 🙂