This is my first time in Spain and also in Europe, so I’m not sure if I was more worried/nervous/stressed or excited. One of my friends asked me the night before leaving Michigan if I was really pumped, and I’m not sure that I truly was. I applied for this program knowing that it would take me out of my comfort zone, out of my routine of doing research and studying in Ann Arbor. I was aware that it would be somewhat challenging, especially because I’m generally soft-spoken, but what better way to practice a language? I really enjoy being at the University of Michigan, and I’m very excited about my post-graduate plans, but this study abroad experience is kind of a once in a lifetime opportunity for me. I’m glad that my research advisor, family, and friends supported me in this decision as well.
Anyways, the reason that I think this experience is so great is because you not only are told about and read about the culture, but experience it first hand. I hope to catch and learn all the little things, like how Madrileños say “Dame” (i.e., “Give me” - very direct) instead of “Quisiera” (i.e., “I would like”). I also hope to experience more of the music and art here. Already, I’m grateful that I was able to see the Annie Leibovitz exhibition and the Stradivarius instruments in the Palacio Real, and I’m very excited to go to the Prado tomorrow. Additionally, I hope to improve my speaking skills, and it’ll be interesting to see how much more comfortable I become speaking in Spanish. One of my old Spanish professors said that he hopes that when I am in Spain, I will open my mouth and roar, and I hope that is the case, haha. I also hope to make a lot of new friends along the way, including all of the U of M students here with me and also my host family in Salamanca. So yes, lots of hopes, but Madrid is definitely living up to all of them. I’m looking forward to the rest of my stay here and also in Salamanca!