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My First Week in Spain's Capital City

November 15, 2023
by Fiorella O'Connor

Reflecting on My First Week Studying Abroad in Madrid, Spain 

Studying abroad in Madrid, Spain, is an enriching experience that continues exceeding all my expectations. As I reflect on my first week here, I’m filled with a profound sense of gratitude for the incredible opportunities this journey offers. From the moment I set foot in this vibrant city, I knew I was embarking on a transformative adventure.

People walking in front of a cathedral
The famous Catedral de la Almudena that we saw on our first day during our CEA CAPA tour.

The anticipation of immersing myself in the Spanish language and culture was a driving force for me, and the first week didn’t disappoint. Madrid's streets, adorned with historic architecture and bustling with life, became my classroom and playground simultaneously. 

a busy Spanish street filled with buildings and cars
A gorgeous Spanish street.

The Spanish Language 

One of the most rewarding aspects of this experience so far is the opportunity to practice Spanish where it originated. My classes, interactions with locals, and everyday conversations have all contributed to my language proficiency in ways that textbooks could never replicate. Learning a language isn’t just about grammar and vocabulary; it's about understanding the nuances of communication, the humor, and the idioms that make a language come alive. Madrid is the perfect setting for this linguistic adventure, and each day, I feel more confident expressing myself in Spanish. 

3 students smile for a selfie on a busy Spanish street

We took a selfie while touring the city.

The Spanish People 

But it's not just the language; it's the people that make this experience extraordinary. The locals here are warm, welcoming, and eager to engage with foreigners. Whether it's sharing tapas in a cozy café, chatting with my host family over dinner, or striking up conversations with fellow students, I've formed connections that transcend borders. Through these interactions, I've gained a deeper appreciation for the Spanish way of life and forged friendships abroad that I believe will last a lifetime. 

four students smile for picture in a soccer stadium with the field behind them.
We went to the Real Madrid vs Real Sociedad game; it was our first time at a Champions League game and stadium - it was amazing!

The Spanish Culture 

The cultural immersion was a highlight of my first week in Madrid. Every corner of this city is steeped in history, from the grandeur of the Royal Palace to the intimate charm of the local markets.

a royal palace at night
A full-length capture of the Royal Palace - wondering if King Felipe is in there.

Exploring by strolling through Retiro Park and savoring the flavors of traditional Spanish cuisine opened my eyes to the rich tapestry of this culture.

people walking on a small European street
The famous authentic churro place, Chocolatería San Ginés, near Plaza Mayor, has the best churros in the city that I’ve tried so far. 

Madrid's vibrant nightlife, with its late dinners and lively gatherings, show me a different rhythm of life that I adore. 

a person standing in a park
My friends and I explored our neighborhood and ended up at Retiro Park's beautiful garden - similar to Central Park in NYC.

In conclusion, my first week studying abroad in Madrid was nothing short of extraordinary. It’s a great experience not only for improving my Spanish but also for meeting remarkable people and immersing myself in a culture that’s both deeply rooted in tradition and dynamic in its evolution. As I look forward to what's ahead, I can't help but feel excited about the continued growth, exploration, and discovery that awaits me in this remarkable city. Madrid became more than a destination; it's a place where my dreams and aspirations have found a new, exhilarating dimension. 

Fiorella O'Connor is the Content Creator - Photographer in Madrid, Spain, and is currently studying at DePaul University.
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