¡Hola! Estoy en España

After Ghana I have been pretty quiet for a while. For two months I just enjoyed being home, getting to see my friends and family again and work on a project for school. Time for a new adventure!

Through the Erasmus exchange program I am now in Madrid for three months, to follow a few courses at a University here. And I love it so far! I think Erasmus is a very good opportunity that every student should grab to get to know different countries and cultures.

Cultural differences?
Yeah, well…Not SO many yet, but I am sure I will notice more than I can tell you after only three weeks. One thing I noticed (which is sort of a obvious one) is that they are a bit more relaxed with time. When I have class two hours, that means I should have 1.5 hours actual class (they don’t have gaps for breaks in de schedule, so the classes are shorter). Often that means we can leave early, sometimes it means the teacher is just late…

One thing that did catch my attention are the poor language skills in Spain. People really barely speak English. Especially in a capital city I expected better. This doesn’t mean that you cannot get around, obviously for asking the way, ordering a meal or shopping you will manage. But try getting housing. Luckily there are international organizations, but getting my student card, my public transport card and some more of these things were challenging. I just had my fingers crossed each time when putting my signature on Spanish written contracts, that they truly explained me all the details. Well, I at least started taking Spanish classes. ¿Qué tal?

Another more welcome difference is that the city is always alive. The morning starts at the same time as it does back home, but the day lasts longer. Some restaurants do not even open their kitchen untill 8 or 9 in the evening, when Dutch restaurants generally already had their peak (at least this time of the year). Going out also goes on longer, you can easily still get into a club around 5 or 6 at night, and it won’t close untill 7 or so (even on weekdays.

Must do’s in Madrid
Well, I would give you a nice list here, but I owe you that one for now. When I arrived the first week, I did not have a room yet, my learning agreement (for the exchange) was not signed yet and I still had a deadline for school. So instead my view was more like this the whole week:

IMG_20160324_133936

Generally I hate food pictures, but I make exceptions once in a while. This is to illustrate what my whole week basically looked like. At least I found a cute coffee bar with good food and a nice view 🙂

School
After the first week it was time for me to go to the University to start my courses. Which, was another obstacle (won’t bother you with the details, but had to change courses and a lot of administration with it), but eventually most of my courses are really interesting. I decided to take some International Relations courses, such as Geopolitics. I have to admit: I love it. I am not much of the activist on my blog, but in personal life I can be. Understanding more about what is going on behind actualities such as ISIS, American Elections and so on is enriching.

What’s up next?
So basically for the coming weeks I’ll be busy enjoying and (hopefully passing) my courses. In the mean time I am trying to learn Spanish, find some sports to do, keep up with photography and photoshop courses and explore Madrid. Also, in May my parents will come by for a week, which is nice since I am away from home so much.

How about you guys? Did any of you ever do Erasmus exchange? What were the up and downsides?

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