Follow me on my journey through my first two years of University abroad in Madrid, Spain at Suffolk University Madrid. Here, you will find entries about my travels around Europe and Africa, life in Madrid, Spain, observations, hot spots around the city and Europe! If you have any questions about my experience, feel free to post it up and I will be sure to respond. Enjoy!
October 15th, 2011
PROS: Extremely manageable homework load (for the most part). Professors M. Woods, Ángel González, and Carmen Higgins were awesome professors I learned so much from (entertaining, passionate, kept things interesting). Suffolk provides a lot of opportunities for cultural activities at discounted (and sometimes free) prices- take advantage of them! Small class sizes are nice because it’s more personable and the professors know you on a first name basis, sometimes students know professors on a first name basis- all professors are there to help you and more than happy to do so.
CONS: Attendance matters here- you are allowed only two unexcused absences per semester and if you stay home sick, you are required to turn in a doctor’s note to excuse it- which is ridiculous if you have a cold but are just too sick to be in class. We’re adults paying tuition, so we should be responsible enough to choose when we go to class and when we don’t- you’ll just have to deal with the consequences if you fail. Sometimes I feel that when I transfer to a different university in the states, it’s going to be difficult to manage all my work since we have such a light workload most of the time and barely read from the books. Some teachers check homework which puts us back in high school, especially since we get credit for it (or not). The campus is very small, desks are unorganized most of the time and there are only 100-180 students attending SUMC so word, rumors and gossip spreads like wildfire.
Host Family Experience-
PROS: I truly lucked out when it came to my living situation. I never had any problems with my roommates and actually became pretty close with my roommates first semester. My señora Mónica and her daughter were more than hospitable. Laundry was done once a week, dinner was prepared for us every night at 9, our rooms and bathrooms were kept clean. We had many great conversations in Spanish which helped me improve a lot. A lasting relationship welcoming me into their home whenever I would like.
CONS: The milk was put out early so by the time I got to it, it was room temperature. Even though the milk is ultra-pasturized there, thus not spoiling as easily and needing refrigeration, I prefer my milk cold. I got bored of cornflakes and dry “pastries” every morning all year. Dinner was cooked early in the day and left out for hours (this was very common amongst many host families I heard). I got food poisoning twice. I would have liked to feel more able to watch TV or movies and eat when I was hungry. I never truly felt comfortable as though I was in my own home. I was about 30 min transit from the University and city center, making it a bit costly for transportation home (mostly at night/morning). My room & bathroom were really tiny and off from the kitchen, so I could hear a lot of noise when I was trying to sleep. Had some issues with my shower leaking first semester. Paper thin walls.
PROS: Everything is SO close (duh!) and SO affordable. RyanAir & EasyJet= cheapest flights around Europe & Morocco EVER (I’m talking 5-80 euro one way if you plan ahead…and sometimes even if you don’t!). I had great experiences with all of the hostels I booked. Take advantage of the 3-day weekends! Within two semesters, I traveled to: Salamanca, San Sebastián, Biarritz (France), Espilette (France), Toledo, Córdoba, Valencia, Sevilla, Segovia, Granada, Marrakech (Morocco), Amsterdam (Netherlands/Holland), Mallorca, & Santander. The Universities organized excursions are a nice way to see different parts of Spain and bond with your peers. There is a good balance of sight-seeing and free-time + it’s included in tuition! Also, make sure to get on the waiting list for other excursions because if someone doesn’t show up (always happens since departure is always EARRRLY) and you did, you get their spot for FREE! First come, first serve.
CONS: Too many places to go, not enough time to do it all. Carry-on luggage regulations on RyanAir can be a pain too…
PROS: Never a dull moment. Madrid is full of trees, so you have the city feel but can still be close to nature. All of the parks are beautiful and Retiro Park is lovely to have picnics at. I enjoyed feeding the fish in front of the crystal palace. Public transportation is SO easy to navigate. The nightlife is like no other; simply unbeatable. Even though it is a cosmopolitan city, it is not face paced, rushed and stressful like other large cities. Spaniards know how to enjoy la vida. Diversity in food options (Indian, Asian, South American, Sushi, Spanish, American, etc.). SUCH a clean city! No weird smells (well..sometimes), streets and sidewalks are hosed down every night.
CONS: Apartment walls, ceilings and floors are paper thin. Construction above my room for over a month every morning at 8am-7pm was HELL. Metro closes at 1:30am and opens again a 6am. It’s also really hot and stuffy on the metro, especially Line 6 (Grey).
I am so happy with the decision I made to come to Madrid and attend Suffolk University Madrid for the first year (to year and a half) of University. I have met so many amazing people, been pushed out of my comfort zone causing me to grow SO much as a person. I have increased my knowledge of the Spanish language and culture and traveled to many different parts of Europe (and even Africa!). I wish the school had organized more things between CEU and Suffolk to meet Spanish people our age, because the Intercambios were mainly all older people. Managing my time between travel, school and fun/nightlife was extremely difficult, especially come midterms/finals. I could still improve on my tendency to procrastinate but I did get work done and ended up with a GPA above 3.2!
Any other questions, feel free to ask me!!