Nora K., Spain- Carlos III Univ. Madrid (Global Studies & Communication)

ACADEMICS

  1. What types of classes did you take abroad and how did they compare to UCSB? I took a variety of classes abroad and most counted toward my major. I took a History & Journalism course & a Media Landscapes course for Communication and a Global Culture & Identity class for my Global major. I was required to take a Spanish language course and I also took a literature class about Cervantes. Compared to UCSB, I would say these classes were somewhat easier, but exams were heavily weighted (about 40-60% of your grade).
  1. What was your favorite class abroad? My favorite class abroad was my Spanish language class, I felt like I was able to apply the things I learned in class and learn colloquial phrases.
  1. Did you intern, volunteer, or conduct fieldwork or research abroad?  If so, tell us about your experience. I did not intern abroad, but wish I did!

HOST INSTITUTION

  1. How would you describe your host institution? The campus at Carlos III was really nice. It had more of a commuter school feel, as most students did not live in Getafe, but lived in the center of Madrid. Bomb coffee in the vending machines *must try*.
  1. Are there student clubs/organizations that UC students can join? There is a lot of student organizations, I did not get to join any but I’m sure UC students can join!

HOUSING

  1. Describe your housing situation. I lived in an apartment in the center of Madrid with another UCSB student and two other girls, one from Atlanta and another that was from Northern Spain. I had a tiny single and paid 480 euros. I found my apartment on a website called Aluni. It was located in the center of Madrid near Plaza de España and Principe Pio. I loved how modern it was and the only downside was we were on the inside of the building, which meant we got minimal sunlight in our apartment.

FOOD

  1. Where did you eat most of your meals? I ate a lot of meals at home, just because portions in Spain are pretty small and are usually tapas (small plates). Try Takos in Madrid for cheap and bomb tacos and quesadillas. I recommend Lateral and Ochenta Grados for Spanish food!
  1. How much was an average meal?  Do you have any budgeting tips for future students? An average meal I would say is about 12 euros, pretty comparable to food here in California. I would say take advantage of trying new food, but of course remember if you’re traveling to different cities you’ll be eating all your meals out, so account that in your budget!
  1. Would it be difficult for vegetarians/vegans and others with strict dietary restrictions to find meals? I would say to be vegan in Spain might be difficult, vegetarian is do-able. I don’t eat pork and that wasn’t too bad for being in a country that consumes a lot of jamón and pork in general.
  1. Describe your most memorable dining experience abroad. My most memorable dining experience was definitely the dinner I had in Paris on a boat on the Seine. Highly recommend!
  1. What local food or drink do you miss most now that you are back? Patatas bravas were definitely my absolute favorite while abroad. If you’re a potato lover like me, this is the BEST. I got to a point where I started buying the sauces and making them at home.


HOST CITY

  1. Describe your host city. My host city was Madrid and it was amazing. Great transportation, easy to navigate, cute shops and tons of place to explore. I lived in the center, so I got that big city feel. Shopping and restaurants were all super close by.
  1. Was it easy to get around? Yes, transportation is pretty fast and cheap. Everyone uses public transportation as well, so trains and buses come pretty often. I used Maps on my iPhone to navigate the public transportation system for the first few weeks!
  1. Did you feel safe in your host city? Do you have any safety tips for future students? I felt pretty safe, crimes are non-violent in Spain. Its just theft. Watch your phone and your belongings because they will reach into your bad and steal you phone or wallet. I had two friends who got their phones stolen.
  1. What were some interesting/fun things that you did in your host city? I loved going to Templo De Debod and having picnics with my friends. Groceries were super cheap in Madrid, we would get a bunch of snacks and just relax.


HOST CULTURE

  1. Describe any cultural differences you experienced while abroad. Only cultural difference was maybe people stared a little more than I am used to and less spices/spicy food.
  1. How did you handle culture shock? Madrid is pretty Westernized, only real culture shock was occasionally people staring or people smoking cigarettes on campus.
  1. What is your favorite aspect of your host culture? I liked the language a lot, Spanish was always a language I was interested in learning and mastering and visiting Madrid definitely helped.


TRAVEL

  1. Tell us your favorite travel story from your time abroad. My friends and I insisted on being independent and traveled to Morocco without a travel company. We arranged it all ourselves and figured everything out although I only spoke broken Egyptian Arabic. Random people helped us around and we got to see a less touristy side of Tangier. We went into almost a cave-like place where there was a man on the floor making bread with his dirty hands, it was a really eye opening and raw experience to see how this is how Morocco actually is behind the glamorous Instagram photos at Chefchoueon or with the camels. We visited a fabric shop where they handmade all of the rugs and clothing and they offered us tea, we even got to wear traditional clothing. We saw a number of villages and tried a ton of authentic food, for less than $5 a plate!


REFLECTION

  1. What was your biggest fear about studying abroad that turned out to be no big deal? I was scared about not making friends and having no travel buddy, but fortunately my housemate ended up being amazing and we traveled everywhere together.
  1. What was your biggest challenge abroad? My biggest challenge abroad was definitely managing traveling and school. Make sure not to overload yourself with either one and be realistic about traveling. Don’t rush it!
  1. How have you changed as a result of your time abroad?
  1. What is your advice to prospective UCSB EAP students? My advice is be spontaneous and take risks! Don’t be scared of talking to people or exploring. People are welcoming if you’re willing to be your authentic self (corny). Travel in smaller groups, I felt like when I traveled in small groups I got to do much more!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s