By Lauren Roll, Oakland University
Since I arrived in Madrid in January I have traveled to Switzerland, Germany, Copenhagen, and a little around Spain. It is interesting to view other cultures in Europe outside of Madrid and see how they vary from the U.S. as well. There are many things that are similar throughout Europe, such as smoking and friendly people. However, there are also things that are very different in every country, primarily the language. Going to a country where I have no ability to speak or comprehend the language is a scary prospect for me and this was worrisome to me. I found that looking up phrases for direction or questions is extremely helpful while traveling and finding the places to go on a map before arriving is essential to not getting lost. Before coming to Madrid I had never been to Europe or even out of the country, excluding Canada, so it made me very nervous to be traveling without my family. I was very pleasantly surprised to find that so many people in Europe are kind and very willing to help us when we need directions or had questions about the city.
My favorite city that I have visited so far was Copenhagen, Denmark where I went with a few girls from my program. There was a port that ran through the middle of the city with colorful buildings on both sides with many cute shops in the surrounding area. We also went to the Little Mermaid statue which was my favorite part of the trip. That was my favorite story growing up so getting to see the statue and learning the history of it as well as the story of Hans Christian Anderson was exciting.
While it is fun to travel with friends and go to different places I also enjoy staying in Madrid for the weekend. I like learning about new places and exploring but I also wish to learn more about the culture and history of where I am living this semester. I do not want to go home and not know anything about where I lived for half a year so it is important to me to know about my surroundings and the demographics of where I live. I would love to learn my neighborhood better and find new places in the city. Traveling is also very tiresome and spending every weekend away and then trying to do homework and study for the school week is difficult. I like having time to relax and spread my studying out more so traveling every weekend is not ideal for me. For the remainder of the program I have weekends off to stay in Madrid to explore and focus on my schoolwork. I look forward to learning more about this city and its culture. There are so many interesting places to go to in Spain and I wish to go see them during my time here. I have visited churches and historical buildings in every place I have gone to but have not visited all of the important historical buildings in Madrid yet. I have so much information about other cities in other countries but do not know this much about Madrid.