Modern Madrid

Modern Madrid Palacio Real, Madrid by roel

This article was written by Global Graduates, published on 6th June 2010 and has been read 4433 times.

Madrid, Spain - welcoming, small, lively, fun, beautiful  If it weren't for my year abroad, both my level of Spanish and my career path wouldn't have improved as much as they did - I got some really goof work experience in marketing whilst I was there. My initial difficulties were in finding accommodation and with contract issues for my work placement, especially as I found that I was consistently given the wrong information by the British embassy. But all in all, once I’d organised myself, Madrid was one of the easiest places to settle into.  With two major universities and Erasmus students round the corner, it’s easy to make a fresh start.  The social life was an important factor in what I was looking for. As I worked hard, if it wasn’t for the lively number of bars and clubs, it would have been much harder to meet anyone. I didn’t do a course out there or anything, I went into work and sat at my desk from 9 til 5, but it's a small world and after a few phone calls to friends, I started meeting people for drinks and quickly made a lot of acquaintances. Erasmus students there are all in the same boat; very rarely are there any who already have family and friends there, so people are very patient and welcoming and eager to be friends. Although after a while you realise which ones you actually like, the whole experience is refreshing.

I did very little travelling in Spain, but a group of us did go to the Cadiz carnival - we paid €130 for 3 nights in a 5 star hotel with trips and buses organised by a company called European Vibe, run by a guy called Scott Edwards. He ran a few nights around town, all for Erasmus students and American students there for the semester. There were trips on offer to all the carnivals around Spain, as well as trips to Portugal and Morocco (unfortunately my Erasmus grant couldn’t quite cover ALL the other trips!).

Useful local words: 'Qué pasa tío?', 'chaval'.

What not to pack: A large dictionary - you pick up the lingo as you go along.

What to pack: All documents proving who you are (passport, copy of your birth certificate etc).

Couldn't have done without: My Spanish phone and my sleeping bag.

Word of advice: The Spanish authorities don't necessarily speak great English, make sure you research work contracts before you go. Choose a place big enough to meet people and have an enjoyable social life. Don't fool yourself into thinking that by avoiding English Erasmus students like yourself you'll make lots of Spanish friends ASAP; you'll only alienate yourself from people who are just like you. If you're there for a year, just let it happen, especially if you're working. Say yes to everything, even if you're tired - you'll be glad you did in the end.

Seb, French and Spanish with Management Studies, Newcastle University

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