Memorias Madrileñas

Programs for this blog post

Honors Spanish Language & Culture

Authored By:

Nicoletta Feldman

A note from the PL: As we say goodbye to Madrid, this week's blog post is a guest post from my student, Kingsley, who wrote about his experience in Spain. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did! - Nicoletta


This summer, I lived in Madrid for four weeks. Starting the exchange, I was convinced that these four weeks would be the longest I had ever experienced. In retrospect, those were honestly the shortest of my life. 

The day before my flight out, I was terrified and felt a lot of emotions. Internally, I likely was very excited, but the idea of living independently, with only a host family, and living exclusively in Spanish was daunting, to say the least. But now, as I sit here writing this, I feel those same feelings, but this time, I don't want to go home.

The first week here in Madrid was very fast. My only goal was to make friends and to get oriented. I remember only bits and fragments from that week, and most of it remains in a blur-like state. I was quick to go home after school each day and to the sanctuary of my room. 

The second week was the first week I got out of the house. Rather than rushing to take the first bus home, I would decide if I wanted to go out with friends that night, or if I wanted to relax. I often chose to go out. This week gave me an abundance of opportunities to practice my Spanish, and to meet new people. When the day trip to Segovia rolled around at the end of the week, it began to dawn on me that we were already halfway through the week. I doubted the validity of this idea since it felt as if I had only just gotten here. 

By the third week, it felt imperative to me to make the most of every night. This week was when I had the longest days. I would spend the time after school with friends, and then rush home in time for dinner. Whatever spare time I had, the bus, in particular, was spent finishing up my project. This week, the whole weekend was spent in Valencia, laying on beaches, or learning more about the Valencian culture. 

And then we arrive at the fourth week. This week, like most others, has felt like a blur. After School evenings have been scrambled into last-ditch efforts to go spend time with friends, and I was often left rushing home to meet curfew. This week has been a time for reflection and a time to ponder the ins and outs of this experience. 

One of the most grounding moments for me was sitting at a rooftop restaurant with my friends. We had organized this night to be our ‘Going away celebration dinner’. The building had 360-degree views, so from 10 stories up, you could see all of Madrid, from downtown Gran Via to the faraway neighborhoods of Argüelles and Salamanca. But what struck me the most was how quickly the bustling city turned into rolling hills and countryside. When in the city, strolling through the streets, I never really thought about how Madrid was a city, located in the center of Spain, and there was no extreme geography to border the city. Beyond the outer neighborhoods, it was just farmland. 

That night, for me, served as a metaphor for how fast these weeks have flown by. When in the moment, week to week, I always told myself I could see friends tomorrow, or do something later. When walking the streets of Madrid, it felt infinite. I could take the metro for twenty minutes and still be downtown. But from up there, I realized very quickly that it was all an illusion of sorts. The fast pace of life, and living in the moment distorts how we see things, and each day feels slow, but the weeks fly by. 

This experience, beyond the abundance of improvement I saw with my Spanish, helped me interact with a different culture, and to be a part of it. I would recommend, to anyone who has an interest, to do this program. I would recommend pushing yourself like I did and immersing yourself in a new culture and language. The final idea I am going to take back with me is how fast the times change, and to seize the moment, before it flutters away. By Kingsley Burch