Student Blog: Study Abroad in Spain
Keep Your Eyes Open and Ears Alert!
by Stephanie Cook '12
Hey everyone! Sorry it has been several days since I have written! Unfortunately, I caught a bug that has been passed around the college and has kept me feeling horrible over the past few days. However, I am feeling a bit better and now have some energy to write.
This past week had me concentrating more on my schoolwork than being able to go out and explore Madrid. I have had to write compositions for my classes and study for quizzes, but I have made it out a few times. Before I go into my excursions, I want to give more details on where we are staying.
Our lodging space is a dormitory that is part of the University of Madrid, but what is interesting about it is the fact that it is a nunnery! Nuns are on-site to cook our meals and clean the rooms. It is very interesting living here and an experience I have not had before. Boys are not allowed on girls' floors; only girls can be in male rooms. Double standard in my opinion! The nuns are so nice to everyone and are always encouraging us to eat more food at dinner. I guess they don't want us to go away hungry! There is no air conditioning in the rooms, which is difficult to cope with, but a lot of students have bought fans, which helps avoid the constant sweating. I did not purchase one, but I just keep my window open and can get a nice breeze. I feel safe living here because I know the nuns will not take my money when they come to clean my room once a week. Which leads me into my next topic: pick pocketing!
Known as a common scenario that is present all throughout Europe, pick pocketing is defined as someone stealing your wallet/purse or certain items within it. The problem is prevalent in Madrid, but it was worse in Barcelona. I have a small purse that I carry, and even though it looks weird and is uncomfortable, I always wear it under my clothing. I do NOT want anyone to take my valuable belongings. My friends here laugh at me for my precautions, but I would rather be safe than sorry! Quite a few students from other schools have gotten their wallets and purses stolen or had someone take the contents within them. There are several ways that these occurrences can take place. Sometimes these thieves use a sharp cutting device to cut through a woman's purse if it is zipped to have access to the contents within the bag and steal items inside. A way to take a man's wallet is to have one person "accidently bump into" him and his wallet will either fall out of his pocket or become more accessible/visible for another person to reach and grab it and then sprint away. Whichever method is used to pickpocket, you want to make sure YOU are not the target! One guy on the Barcelona trip got unlucky three different times - so always make sure to watch, look, and listen.
The past few days have been more eventful. I went to an absolutely gorgeous park in Madrid called El Parque Retiros. The park is beautiful and has a lake where people can use paddleboats to row. My friends and I definitely took advantage of this opportunity. We all took turns rowing and enjoying the beautiful scenery that was available to us. There were a lot of fish and ducks hanging around in the lake, which was cool to see. Additionally, there were some gorgeous statues around the park, which we made sure to take plenty of pictures with. I also went to tour the Santiago Stadium. This is the home of the Real Madrid Football (soccer) team. We were able to tour the entire stadium ranging from the pressroom to the locker room! It was very cool to be in such a nice place that is home to a team that is one of the richest, most successful, and most famous football teams in the world. The stadium has a lot of history that we
were able to pick up on and learn about. It was cool to learn about the sporting history of Spain and see how successful this team has been for many years.
Tonight some friends and I will be going to Sol, a popular area in Madrid for shopping. We are going to try Churros con Chocolate! This is a famous dessert in Spain that we have all heard wonderful reviews of, and now we want to see for ourselves if they are correct! Looks like it's time for another trip on the Metro. I hope we don't get lost! We are going on some city tours this weekend and to Paris on Monday, so there is definitely another entry to come! Stay tuned :)
Until next time,
PHOTOS: Study Abroad in Spain