Natalia González, Brandeis University
Spring 2018 Liberal Arts Program
Hi everyone! My name is Natalia Gonzalez.
I am originally from Miami, FL and now go to school at Brandeis University, near Boston. I was lucky enough to spend the semester studying abroad in Madrid with CIEE Liberal Arts at Universidad Carlos III Madrid in Getafe. It was the best semester of my life. I learned so much both inside and outside the classroom, met so many amazing people and grew both professionally and personally.
Chances are, one of the most rewarding parts of going abroad will be all the friends you will make.
My advice would be, especially if you’re shy like myself, is to really try and put yourself out there. For the first couple of months in Madrid, I tried to limit how much I spoke with my friends and family back home, not because I didn’t love and care for them but because I knew that I had to force myself out of my comfort zone. I am so happy that I did so because I met some of my closest friends from America (we live in different parts of the US but still keep in touch). I also was lucky enough to make some Spanish friends (the easiest and best way to practice the language)! I was also able to become more connected with my host family. Whenever I had a rough day, they were there to support me and whenever I was happy about something, my host mother and sister celebrated in my joy. By the end of the semester, I truly felt like part of the family;
Every weekend in Madrid, I made it a point to try something new – whether it was a new coffee shop or a new typical Spanish dish. The list below is constituted of some of my favorite experiences!
Touring the city (All these are free!)
- Visit the Palacio Real
- Walk through Plaza Mayor and people watch
- El Parque de Retiro is kind of like the “Central Park” of Madrid. Great place for a picnic with friends! Also make sure to visit the Palacio de Cristal in the park- its one of a kind.
- Bring a blanket and something to drink to watch the sunset from the Templo of Debod , a beautiful view of the city!
- Walk through Museo Reina Sofia and the Museo del Prado (some of the most famous museums in the country and only 5 mins walking distance from one another)!
- Walk through El Rastro Market (note that this is only on Sundays). The best place to find vintage/antique pieces and artisanal jewelry/clothes etc. (seen in the photo to the right)
- Taberna Malaspina
- Casa Mauris
- La Mucca – the location I always went to was in Malasaña
- Taberna Tirso de Molina – sit outside and enjoy the view of the plaza where all the flower markets set up shop! (seen below)
Some of my favorite spots for delicious artisanal coffee:
- Ruda Café
- Mision Café
- Pum Pum café
(Also, best ice cream in the city: Mama Elba)
“Mercado” style dining:
- Mercado de San Anton – make sure to go to the second floor and also to the rooftop!!
- Mercado de San Miguel –Right next to Plaza Mayor!
- Mercado de San Idelfonso
And last but not least, my favorite bar: It’s called “Azotea” and its located on the rooftop of the Circulo de Bellas Artes, near Gran Via. Totally worth the 4 euro entrance fee!