Hello from Spain! My name is Isaac Lavine – I’m a sophomore chemical engineering major from Amherst, Massachusetts. This semester, I’ve gone with almost half of the sophomore engineering world to Madrid, España, to study at Saint Louis University in Madrid. The other half of the sophomore engineers recently arrived in Bremen, and may freeze to death before the end of their second week. Meanwhile, those of us in Madrid have been here a month and are almost settled in. It’s been a whirlwind of activity visiting towns, cathedrals, monasteries, the incredibly ornate burial chambers of the Spanish Habsburg kings, and in my opinion best of all, the 2,000 year old Roman aqueduct in Segovia. I could tell you about all of that – and it’s been incredible (take a look at the pictures!). But more important has been exploring Madrid and adjusting to life here.
One of the first spanish words I learned in Spain is extranjero – foreigner. Us Lafayette students, we are definitely extranjeros en Madrid. However obvious it is though, it isn’t a bad thing! Most Spaniards are very nice and friendly, especially when you make an effort to speak to them in Spanish. They’re always amused at hearing you mangle their language, and are really nice in trying to talk with you! This has been one of the best parts of my experience abroad so far – learning new Spanish and gaining some confidence interacting with people. It’s amazing how much you can communicate without knowing the right vocabulary – one or two words and some arm gestures can go a long way. Communicating with complete strangers whose language you don’t speak well is surprisingly fun!
While this is great, the only thing missing from this experience is that sense of being uncomfortable, and needing to find a niche – we all brought our comfort zone with us to Madrid. That’s great, but sometimes the feeling of uncomfortableness can be a good thing – just like the first few weeks of college, it’s exciting, it’s new and it’s fun. Personally, I love that feeling – the need to fend for myself, and being surrounded by people I don’t know makes me extremely outgoing and ready to try new things. I’m happy my friends came with me to Madrid, it’s awesome – but it does make for an easier experience. To prove how awesome it is, take a look at some of these photos! Till next time, signing out – Isaac