For seven weeks this summer, I was studying abroad in Madrid through the Viterbi Overseas program, and without a doubt, I can say that it’s been the biggest whirlwind of my life – in the best way. I met forty of the most interesting people I know, many of whom I probably wouldn’t have met outside of this program, and was able to learn about Spanish culture while living as a local for nearly two months.
Everyone in the program took two classes, and I Engineering Economy (ISE 310) which was taught by Professor Bottlik, a USC faculty member, and Spanish History (HIST 195), which was taught by Professor Seijo, who is from Madrid and teaches with Accent, the study abroad center we took classes at and went on excursions with.
Outside of class, we had lots of free time to go explore the cities for ourselves. I loved that the city was so accessible by metro and by food that we rarely needed to taxi places. We became regulars at our favorite breakfast cafetería, and made friends with locals: people who had lived in Madrid all their lives, people who had moved recently, and people who had moved there from the States. I got to see to see the Spanish people live life, and got a chance to to live amongst them in, and Spanish skills improved – even if just slightly. The food was incredible; we ate menús del día, or meals with a first course, entree, dessert, drink, and bread all included for usually 10-15 euro, as often as we could.https://www.instagram.com/p/BHnDGfuBMjq/
I was also able to tour parts of Spain, including the historical cities of Toledo and Segovia, and to visit Valencia and Andalusia. On the weekends we had free, we could travel wherever we wanted in or out of Spain. I visited Barcelona, where I got to tour Gaudí’s eccentric architectural masterpieces. One of the nights there, my friends and I got to see a concert on the roof of one of the houses he designed, which had an amazing view of Barcelona’s skyline. On the second free weekend, I visited Lisbon, where I got to try the best Pasteis de Nata, which are sweet, custardy egg tarts. I also visited the nearby city of Sintra, where I had traditional Portuguese food and visited castles high up in the Sintra mountains – on the day I went, it was foggy, so it looked like we were up in the clouds.
This summer has been Sundays spent shopping at El Rastro, meeting people over churros and chocolate, and eating the best yogurt helado I’ve ever tried, and I’m counting the days until I get to go back!
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