Meet NYU Madrid Global Peer Mentor, Blake!

Throughout the semester, you will have the opportunity to hear from NYU Madrid alumni to gain their firsthand insight and tips.

Today, meet Blake, who studied in Madrid in Fall 2015.

Blake, on the right, with her homestay roommates

Blake, on the right, with her homestay roommates

Major: Politics

What is your favorite memory about your time abroad? I had so many amazing experiences while abroad but my last night in Madrid, my homestay dad, José, knocked on our door at 4am (because we said we weren’t sleeping to get back on USA time), 3 hours before we had to leave for our flights, and we sat around the kitchen table, essentially in the dark, and he gave us advice for two hours that was a memorable send-off as my last great experience of my study away semester.

What was the most interesting course you took and why? I took a few interesting classes while in Madrid but my favorite was Cultures and Contexts: Spain at the Crossroads of Europe, North Africa and America with Prof. Eugenio Suárez-Galbán. Prof. Suárez-Galbán explained everything in such an interesting way and related history back to modern-day issues that it made Cultures and Contexts, which is a CORE requirement I know I dreaded taking, so so worth it and incredibly valuable, especially within the context of actually living in Spain.

What do you miss most? I loved Madrid, but the thing I miss most would apply to any study abroad experience, I think, but I miss putting myself in new situations everyday and having the challenge of basically not knowing what I was doing when ordering at a cafe or figuring out which shampoo to buy at the grocery store or getting lost in El Corte Inglés. These new situations challenging me every day helped me learn about myself and made me stronger.

What two things do you wish you had packed?  It’s going to sound silly, but notebooks in Spain are very different than notebooks I’m used to in America so I had wished I brought my own notebooks instead of waiting to buy them in Madrid. It also got colder than I thought sooner so I wish I had brought a better jacket that was lighter than the heavy coat I packed because I ended up having to buy one that I wasn’t super happy with too.

Name two things you should not have packed. My mom helped me pack because I’m normally an overpacker, and I still packed too much. I was wearing the same things every week or two anyway. I also should have left the many sandals I brought at home because Europe in the fall isn’t freezing, but it gets chilly pretty fast.

What advice would you give about housing? I did not really know what to expect living in a homestay because I was living with a family of four and a roommate I didn’t know, but it could not have been a better experience. At first, like most new experiences, I wasn’t super comfortable in my homestay but my family made my roommate and me feel like we were just part of the family and we still keep in touch with them today! Living with a family also helped me develop my language skills much faster than my friends who were living in apartments because we ate dinner together every night and spoke only in Spanish. We did not speak English at the dinner table or in any common spaces in the house and while sometimes it was hard when I didn’t know exactly how to say something I wanted to say, my family was so helpful, trying to figure out what I was trying to say.

If you could go back in time and do one thing differently, what would it be? If I could go back and do one thing differently, I would have opened up more in practicing Spanish sooner. I wasn’t very comfortable in my Spanish when I first got to Madrid so I wasn’t the talkative person in Spanish that I am in English, but as I spent more time, I realized I would learn more if I just tried and got over my reservations so I just wish I had done it sooner.