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First Time Abroad: Madrid

April 07, 2018
by Cara Stevens
My suitcase was under 50 pounds.  My travel documents were in check.  My boarding pass was in hand.  I was ready to take off for Madrid, Spain.  Hello, or should I say hola, my name is Cara, and I am the current MOJO Blogger in Madrid for Spring 2018.  

  I always knew I wanted to study abroad in college, and once I declared a minor in Spanish, I knew Spain was the obvious choice for where I should spend a semester of my life. Although I’ve only been living in Madrid for about a week now, there are quite a few cultural differences I’ve noticed and are becoming more accustomed to.

For starters, the eating times here are quite different.  Back in the US, I’d consider myself someone who eats dinner rather late - 8 pm on average - but dinner here is a different story.  During orientation we were told not to expect to see anyone eat dinner until at least 9 pm, but probably later.  (Tapas and sangria is a classic dinner in Madrid!)

Also, not only are mealtimes a bit off for us Americans, but the style of eating is different too.  Back in the United States, especially in big cities like Chicago or New York, we are so used to the hustle and bustle and everything being on-the-go.  We impatiently wait for our Starbucks order to be called, and it is not even a question if we want it “to go.”  Here in España, there’s a much slower and calmer pace of life.  You need to request your café “para llevar” (to go), and if you want to leave a restaurant, then you have to ask for the check. Otherwise it won’t ever come.

 Shopping in Malasaña, a great place
to drop some euros. (Sorry, Mom.)
 Views from my apartment balcony!
CEA housing is fantastic.

Another cultural difference between the US and Spain is the operating hours of various stores.  Stores usually close during the hours of 2:00 pm and 5:00 pm.  I expected this “siesta time” before coming to Spain, however I did not realize it would be so common among such a variety of stores.

A pleasant surprise that I’ve found in Madrid is how well people speak English.  Although I am studying Spanish, sometimes it’s just easier to get your point across when using your native tongue, and in most cases, the locals will know what you’re saying.  Often, a situation like this will occur: you’re feeling pretty confident in what you’re about to say to someone in Spanish, you say it, give yourself a mental pat-on-the-back…and then they respond in English.  But hey, at least you’re trying! (Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself.)

I am so excited to see what these next few months has in store for me studying abroad in Madrid, and can't wait to share it!

Cara S. is the Spring 2018 MOJO Blogger in Madrid, Spain. She is currently a Sophomore studying Public Relations, Marketing, and Spanish at the University of Dayton.

Cara Stevens is the Spring 2018 CEA MOJO Blogger in Madrid, Spain, and is currently studying at University of Dayton.
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