Throughout the semester, you will have the opportunity to hear from NYU Madrid alumni to gain their firsthand insight and tips.
Today, meet Jay, who studied in Madrid in Spring 2016.
What is your favorite memory about your time abroad? Anyone who knows me knows that I love Real Madrid, so a great memory was getting to revel in their historic and unprecedented 11th European Cup, but another favorite memory of mine was the first time I had an unassisted conversation with a local in complete (maybe a bit broken) Spanish. It felt good to know I was slowly but surely immersing myself and learning a lot in my new environment.
What was the most interesting course you took and why? The most interesting course I took was Spain Today, not only because I got to converse and enhance my Spanish speaking abilities, but also because I learned much about Spain’s past and present. Things such as culture, politics, music, entertainment and much more were touched on. It really helped me integrate and understand the Spanish people.
What two things do you wish you had packed? This obviously depends on the period of time, but, I wish I had packed more cash with me. I had enough to get by my first few weeks with, but over time, as I withdrew cash in Madrid, the Euro grew stronger to the dollar, so I essentially was losing out on some value that I would’ve originally had if I had converted my currency before leaving for Spain. Otherwise, packing the essentials and packing light seemed to do it for me.
Name two things you should not have packed. I tend to pack light, so I am not a good resource to answer this question, however I do regret packing more than one book. They take up weight and space in your luggage. If you can’t do without, choose one important book and leave the rest at home.
What do you miss most? I miss the simplicity of life in Madrid. Spaniards are having a tough time economically, and as of right now, similarly to the US, is experiencing a politically charged time, but Spaniards manage to enjoy life in ways that Americans tend not to. Moreover, NYU Madrid is a small community where you really get to know one another fairly well and it feels like a family getting to see one another each day. Exploring and trying new things on a regular basis was so normal and exciting, and it left a lasting impact on my life. I miss being able to walk down the street and experience something completely unknown to me.
One good way to get to know locals is: Continue to pursue your passions and do not be afraid to engage in new things. For example, I enjoy exercising and playing soccer, two things Madrileños particularly enjoy, and I was able to meet locals this way.
If there’s one thing students should know about Madrid, it is: It isn’t New York City, that’s for sure. You will be exposed to a whole new realm, a whole new way of life. The Spaniards start their days a little later than we do, they eat at different times, and things are slightly more relaxed (to name a few things) in Spain. Getting around is quite easy, and it is much cheaper than living in New York.
If you could go back in time and do one thing differently, what would it be? I don’t really think I could ask for a better experience than the one I’ve had, but maybe if I could do it over again, I would try even harder to put myself in uncomfortable situations where I am forced to speak and improve my Spanish. I would also try to travel to see more of Spain and its surrounding countries.