I can summarize my study abroad experience in three words: exciting, enlightening, and everlasting. As a mechanical engineer and soccer player at SUNY Maritime College, going abroad seemed like a long shot. My school had no study abroad program for engineering students, and when I sought advice from my advisor, I was told not to go abroad. This was a huge disappointment; however, my determination was strong, and I knew I could find a solution.
After thorough research online, I finally decided to pursue a program through CEA Study Abroad, as they had an option for engineering and had locations in Spain, one of the biggest soccer destinations in the world. Despite the resistance of my school’s limitations, I was able to achieve my goal of studying abroad in Madrid, and I am here to share my story and encourage others to follow the same path!
Studying abroad in Madrid as an engineer is not easy! This was what I wish I had heard before embarking on my adventure. As an engineering student back home, classes are straightforward and you are able to balance the social, athletic, and academic life pretty well. Abroad, there's a lot more social engagement, which leaves potentially less time to fit in the academic and athletic aspects. CEA students studying engineering in Madrid will most likely go to the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, which consists of two campuses: Getafe and Leganes. Both of these campuses are an hour train ride from the center of the city, and an hour distance between each other. UC3M is a great university and is a well known establishment throughout the world, meaning that students have to be willing to invest a lot of effort in order to succeed in the classes. This can be hard to do as a study abroad student, depending on your lifestyle. Many days are spent traveling throughout Europe, meeting new people, and expanding your cultural horizons. The days spent studying your coursework become rare and spread out, making it hard to keep up. My recommendation is to consider taking easier courses and keeping the classes between Tuesday and Thursday. Regardless of your situation abroad, you can always make it the best experience for yourself!
Despite all of the academic obstacles that I had to overcome, I was still able to enjoy Madrid and Spain to their fullest. Madrid is a beautiful modern city, with the perfect mix of Spanish culture and the fast city life of a metropolis. You can enjoy soccer games with great clubs such as Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid. There is lots of dancing and amazing food. And it's the best location to explore the rest of Spain! Places like Barcelona, San-Sebastian, Valencia, Seville and Granada are only a train ride away. Overall, your study abroad experience with CEA will be an unforgettable one. The most important thing you can do is go into this with an open mind and set up an ideal academic schedule.
Nicholas Ciacca is the Spring 2018 Alumni Ambassador in Madrid, Spain, and is currently studying at State University of New York Maritime College.