Get Lost, Vale?

Tips for Studying Abroad

If you’re thinking about studying abroad, Madrid is the place to go! But there are somethings you should know before you go. Here’s my list of tips, tricks and advice when traveling about in Madrid.

Weather

If you love sweating as soon as you walk outside, Madrid is perfect for you. Yes, it is HOT here. When I first arrived, I was actually cold because the weather ended up being in the 60’s (). But that ended very quickly. The temperature shot up to 104 degrees within a few days and the walk to school turned into a Metro trip. Summers in Madrid are going to be hot so be prepared for that. Shorts and a tank top are completely acceptable to wear here but since this is a city, people tend to dress up so a nice dress would be just fine.

Street Etiquette

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You will get cat called. It’s disgusting and makes you feel uncomfortable but you really can’t escape it. No matter where you go, people will stare and men will, unfortunately,make comments or stick their heads out of cars to whistle at you. You can’t really escape it so you just have to ignore and go on with your day. It was a big shock in the beginning because you really don’t here that in the states. As I mentioned in another post, people on the street will bump into you. I was constantly swerving and crashing into people but that’s just how you walk around here. Another thing to be cautious of is staring. People will stare at you on the subway and that’s ok. Here, people tend to stare so don’t think you’re being scrutinized or judged.

It’s not just Tapas and Paella

As much as I love the traditional Spanish restaurants, that’s not all that Spain has to offer. A lot residence in Madrid are not actually just Spanish so you’ll pass a lot of Italian and Sushi places. It’s ok to stop in and grab some pasta! No matter where you end up eating, you will be served bread upon bread upon bread. But it’s ok because you’ll burn all those calories off just by walking up and down the hilly streets of Madrid! And don’t forget to pair your meal with a glass of sangria or beer. A lot of times ordering water will cost just as much as a drink. Yeah, water ISN’T free. It’s also ok if you need to stop into Starbucks. When traveling to different countries, some people will completely avoid going somewhere they can find at home. That’s not a bad concept but if you really want to live like a local don’t be afraid to stop in! Grabbing a Peach Green Tea Lemonade won’t make you any more touristy. If you’re going to study abroad, you want to be comfortable and enjoy your experience. So don’t be afraid to try new things but also remember that comfort is key!

PACK LIGHT

PACK LIGHT, PACK LIGHT, PACK LIGHT! This tip is more for me because I tend to over pack the wrong clothes. So my suggestion? PACK LIGHT. You will want to buy clothes in Madrid because it’s cheaper here and if you want to fit in you’ll buy the latest Spanish trends. I would just pack the essentials; a few cute t-shirts, leggings, jeans, shorts, a summer dress and something nice to wear out. Don’t worry, you’ll be able to buy more when you get there. Trust me, the sales signs that read “Up to 80% off” will strike your fancy. Prepare for hot weather!

Travel

If you choose to go on vacations on the weekend, try to travel around Spain before leaving the country. You are in Spain to study so take advantage of traveling within the country and experiencing all there is to see in Spain. It will be a lot easier on your bank account, too since you’ll be booking your trips AFTER you get your class schedules on the first day. The school will also provide weekend trips and tours so definitely take advantage of those! They’ll end up being cheaper if you go with a group and you’ll get to meet new people. The metro is a great tool for getting around! It is so organized and takes you anywhere you need to go within Madrid. The city heavily relies on public transportation so the trains are clean and the stations are very organized. I would suggest taking the busses or metro or even the cabs but don’t go for the Uber. First of all, an Uber will cost so much more, even when split amongst friends. A cab will be cheaper and you can pay with card now!

Get Lost

Please get lost when you come to Madrid! Put your phone in your back pocket and just walk around. Make wrong turns, try something new! You’ll get to know the city a lot better if you make mistakes. It’s good to keep a map on with you but don’t rely on it. You really experience more when you dive in to little shops on random streets. Madrid doesn’t have a grid system for their streets like Philly or New York so you may get lost even without trying. Plus, roads will change names half way through so you could be starting on Calle de Princesa but end up on Calle Gran Via without taking a turn.

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I hope you use these tips wisely and really immerse yourself in the Spanish culture! There is so much to do and see here and you definitely want to get the most out of your experience!

Until next time, Chao!