Basketball student-athlete Jordan Weir '18 studied abroad in Madrid, Spain, during the spring semester. She recaps her experience here:
I was fresh out of the Ursinus locker room shower when I started my semester abroad. After an emotional last game in Collegeville, Pa., I said goodbye to my teammates, gave my boyfriend a final hug, and I was off to the Philadelphia Airport. Buying a one-way ticket to a foreign country is slightly intimidating, but actually getting on the plane is another story. I found my seat on the flight and spent the next 8 hours imagining what my new life would entail in Madrid, Spain. Going into my junior year, I knew a semester abroad would be in my future as an International Studies Major, and as a Spanish Minor, it had to be a Spanish speaking country. It was easy to choose Spain; a European travel hub, and somewhere I knew I could fit in, or so I thought.
If you thought getting on that flight was intimidating, try getting off. It was 7:45 am in Madrid (1:45 am stateside). My flight landed early, and there I was at the Madrid Barajas Airport, somewhere that I would frequent throughout the semester. As I found my way to my host family's house, the nerves began to fill my body from head to toe. Luckily, as soon as I found the apartment that I would be staying in for the next three and a half months, I was welcomed with the biggest hugs and kisses that Spain had ever seen (it is customary to give two kisses on the cheek to say hello). After having a wonderful breakfast, I immediately found my bed and took a nice long "siesta" (nap).
After a while, I began to fall into a rhythm. My day would start with one of my five Spanish classes at 8:30, include at least 4 metro rides, café con leche (coffee with milk), and a delicious lunch from my host mom. Usually I was accompanied on my daily commute to and from school by two other WAC athletes, Katie Arnold (of Field Hockey), and Annie Grosscup (of Women's Rowing). We were all placed with families in the same neighborhood and quickly became regulars at our favorite neighborhood coffee shop and sports bar. Once Katie and I set up the live stream of my team's game in my host family's apartment and enjoyed freshly cooked pancakes courtesy of the ever-incredible Raquel, my "mama espanola" (Spanish mom).
While learning Spanish at Nebrija University was a very important part of the study abroad experience, the weekends were the most fun. Every weekend my friends and I had a new destination, and we instantly became experts in cheap European travel (or tried our best). One of my goals for the semester was to focus on exploring Spain first, and then branching out to other countries. I have spent a lot of time traveling, but usually just to one city, instead of really taking in the country as a whole. This was my goal for Spain. During the semester I traveled to Segovia, Salamanca, Toledo, Valencia, Ibiza, Barcelona, Girona and Malaga within Spain, reaching 8 of the 17 autonomous communities. After Spain, I was lucky enough to travel to Morocco, Portugal, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria and Slovakia.
One of the great things about being based in Madrid was the opportunities it provided to my everyday life. Instead of going home to do homework, I could get on the metro and go to a part of the city I was unfamiliar with, allowing me to explore Madrid every day of the week. I grew to learn the customs, and my blonde, tall self slowly began to penetrate the bubble that is Madrid (my host mom always tried to convince me that blonde Spanish people actually exist, but I'm still not quite sure). One thing I learned about Madrid is how passionate the residents of Madrid are about where they live. They are proud of their city and they let you know it in every way possible. People in Spain are also incredibly welcoming and caring. I have not and probably never will meet somebody more welcoming than my host mom, and will always know that I have a home in Madrid. I am very happy to be back home with my family and friends, but will always miss those I met in Spain, and the city in which beer and wine are cheaper than water, people are loud and proud, and the sun (almost) always shines. Hasta pronto, Madrid.