Misconceptions in Madrid

Programs for this blog post

Teach In Spain Program

Authored By:

Deirdre C.

Moving to Madrid last August was my first time ever in Europe. Understandably so, I was really overwhelmed with everything I had been told about Europe, and specifically Spain, without ever having been there. I did a ton of research and fantasized about what life would be like here, but, of course, seeing is believing. I have learned over the last seven months how much of what I had in mind were actually misconceptions, or how my opinion on things has changed:


  • I thought the weather would be warmer. I knew it got pretty cold in Madrid, but I don’t think I fully grasped how cold it can get here. As someone from Boston, I am used to cold weather, but there have been many days where the weather app reports nearly identical temperatures in Madrid and in Boston. The weather in Madrid is really only slightly more mild than it is in Boston.


  • On the topic of weather, it rains a lot more here than I had been told. I was told that it almost never rains in Madrid, but that just doesn’t seem to be true at all. In my opinion, it rains pretty regularly, just usually not for so long. I think my first week here it rained nearly every day, which seems to be abnormal, but it definitely set the precedent for the rest of the year. 


  • Although the metro cannot usually handle the rain, overall the public transportation system here is absolutely incredible. It is easy to figure out, cheap to pay for (it is currently 8 Euros a month for anyone under 26 years old), super reliable, super clean, and the metro and bus system can take you pretty much anywhere in Madrid. I am really hoping other big cities in Europe and the U.S. take notes from Madrid’s public transportation system!


  • Things are cheaper than I imagined. A typical grocery store run is easily around 30 Euros for me here, which is far cheaper than what I would spend at home for the same items. And that includes the weekly candle I buy! It is not difficult to find a coffee for 2 Euros (or less) here, beer and wine is much cheaper, and many local restaurants and bars are super cheap. Our 1000 Euro stipend isn’t a lot, but it takes you a lot farther here than the same amount would at home.


  • Before arriving in Madrid I was definitely under the impression that more people here would speak English. I’ve visited quite a few European countries in my time here and it seems to me that Spain has some of the lowest level of English of everywhere I have been. This is a blessing and a curse as someone who does not speak a ton of Spanish as I have been forced to push myself and speak more. Additionally, it is just another reminder that our job as English Language Assistants is important!


On the whole, I have been pleasantly surprised with Madrid and am so sad to be leaving in a few months. Where am I going to find $2 coffee and $30 groceries at home?!