Before going to Madrid, I thought about all of the things I wanted to do, all the places I wanted to see, and all the experiences I wanted to have. I didn’t realize it, but in doing this I somewhat limited myself in thinking. The list was something you would expect for a college student, well-known clubs to go to, weekend trips to nearby cities, and flashy restaurants I thought I had to go to. Of course, all of these things are fun and wonderful experiences, but I am also happy that I took time out to do some not-so-touristy things.
Some of my favorite activities were things that I had not necessarily planned out weeks in advance. It was things like going on a thrift shop tour with two CIEE employees, or going to an escape room with two of my friends! One of my favorite weekends was when my roommate and I went to the Nation’s Cup, a horse show and competition. It was an incredible experience I would not have thought about, had my roommate not brought it up. The feeling of sitting in the stands with one of my friends, surrounded by cheering fans as a Spanish rider won the Nations Cup is one I won’t soon forget. It was moments like these that made the trip memorable for me, the special things that you wouldn’t necessarily think of when making your to-do list.
While having ideas for things you want to do is great, I think it is important to allow for a flexible weekend or two. Go around and enjoy the city and some of the hidden gems it may have to offer. Find a neighborhood you love, a stunning market, or go lose yourself in the culture of one of Madrid’s many distinct neighborhoods. Do something outside of your comfort zone that you may never have thought about. I can guarantee you’ll have a great time and a wonderful memory to look back on.