Bonding, reflecting, and building relationships in Madrid

SBCC official Madrid program blogger Jenny Oslund reflects on the program as she reached beyond the mid-point of the program, and realizes that one can feel at home in more than one place.
I am finally able to say that there are more days of the program behind me than there are days left. Living abroad in Madrid has become my normal now and although at times surreal, it has come to be what I envisioned all along. 

Jenny Oslund and friends in Barcelona
With Meghan and Alex at
La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona
For the most part, my classmates and I are on either side of the spectrum in terms of how we feel about being abroad for two months. Personally, I have not felt significantly homesick. I have wanted this experience for a while,  so actually living it has made me grow fonder of my family, but also more willing to be on my own and outside my comfort zone. 
Gaudie House in Barcelona
The Gaudie House in Barcelona

As expected, I’ve learned a lot about what I like and dislike about the city and people. What I like is  that locals walk with either determination or liberty in their stride. I dislike the metro during rush hour and barely fitting into a car. But what my friends and I have really come to love other than people watching and subway surfing, is eating. On the weekends we will try to find trendy restaurants that we first  research extensively. When we have had enough time being tourists, we like to be locals at our familiar spots. 

Gran Via Spain
At the top of El Corte
 Ingles overlooking Gran Via

Nearby our apartment, we have our go-to café for studying called Café Comercial, and another restaurant called Amici’s for mid-week tapas and drinks; in between classes, we walk around the corner from our study center to La Manon, for coffee and pastries, and across the street to Petit Appetit for lunch.  I am constantly telling myself that my stay here is ending sooner than I want to believe—so, I have to keep trying new places while also creating a sense of belonging to the city.   

It has been two months since arriving in Spain and it is incredible to reflect on the uniqueness and uncertainty of each and every day. I remained vigilant in not having too many predispositions of studying abroad and being part of a large but close-knit group. I have since realized that our group dynamics have actually grown a lot stronger and everyone has bonded with each other in some way or another, however significant it may have been. 

Colloseum Rome
Colloseum Events in Rome
I can speak for my roommates and I, that living, going to school, and for the most part, traveling together, has drawn us closer and more understanding of each other. Our relationship with our professor has also strengthened, and it is a really interesting experience to collect memories in and out of the classroom together. I have also grown personally appreciative of what it takes to study abroad and become immersed, while keeping up with my studies and maintain relationships. 

Now that the program is halfway complete, I no longer have a list of things I miss about home in California, but instead a list of things I will miss about home in Madrid. I like to believe that I have wrapped myself in the Spanish way of life—giving directions in the street, putting in earphones during a metro ride, and eating a long Spanish meal at a restaurant.

Barcelona, Spain
Overlooking Barcelona

I cannot say that returning home will be an easy transition, just as I thought arriving in Madrid would be easy too. I have grown into a certain way of life that would be unheard of in California, like spontaneously deciding to spend a weekend in another country. Leaving Madrid may just be all bitter and not sweet. With two months down and one to go, I will be reminding myself to seize every moment and savor every bite while I still can. 

Missed Jenny's first two blogs? Click on the titles below to catch up!

Getting to know Madrid
Becoming a local in Madrid

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