First Impressions of Madrid

Written By:  Shane Bridges ’25 (Session 2)

Having never been outside the country, or even on a plane by myself, I was honestly very nervous for this trip. I feared the whole thing would be an overwhelming experience from finding my baggage to trying new foods and navigating new places. However, I was pleasantly surprised upon my arrival in this beautiful city and country. 

After landing in Madrid at 6:10 in the morning with a classmate, we step off the plane into a beautiful and spacious airport, with plenty of signage in both English and Spanish directing us to our baggage. We had to take a mini train to a different terminal for our luggage! Once more people arrived we rode taxis to our hostel, when I realized how special this trip is going to be for me. All of the colorful buildings, balconies, and open spaces were so welcoming, even from the back seat of a car.

Walking around the city in the morning and afternoon, I could not believe I was in a place halfway across the world! It felt like a typical US city, but was still a very fresh and vibrant area like I have never experienced before. I also enjoy the abundance of nature that surrounds areas of the city, like trees lining a street or greenery atop terraces. 

All of the fears I had about this trip are quickly disappearing. Madrid is full of great food options, and I have found trying new “gastronomy” to be very rewarding so far. As a terrible navigator, I can say that Madrid certainly is a walkable city, and easy to get around. I am already finding myself recognizing certain corner shops or plazas and remembering where to go. We have also noticed that fashion tends to vary widely among the people here, with everything from ripped jean shorts to long and elegant skirts and dresses. I was surprised to see so many people wearing jeans in the hot weather!

The pivotal moment for many of us was the welcome dinner. By the time this lovely, almost 3-hour-long, 3-course meal wrapped up, we already felt bonded to each other. It was nice to enjoy a large meal as a full group in an amazing restaurant right next door to where we are staying. As I was getting ready for bed that first night, I realized I was no longer scared or sad like when I first left home. Though it has only been a couple of days, the city and classmates I will continue to study with have started to make me feel comfortable in Madrid. After meeting great people, having cellphone-free dinners and spontaneous shopping trips, I can tell we will make so many more great memories together this month.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *