Study Abroad: Madrid, Spain – Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M)
My weekends in Spain were spent travelling to different cities within the country, improving my Spanish, and exploring the incredible city of Madrid! My other favorite city was Valencia, where all the old people wore colorful walking suits and hats for their Sunday strolls. I travelled to Valencia alone for a single weekend but met so many friends in the hostel where I stayed, and some at the beach too! I also saw the Mediterranean ocean for the first time!
During the week, I would have a quick breakfast with my host family and take the train to my university campus, some days I went to the engineering campus for my Statistics and Fluid Mechanics classes taught in English, other days I went to the Liberal Arts campus for my Spanish Literature and Advanced Spanish Language classes, both taught in Spanish.
In Spain, engineering classes are very different. They are much smaller, and the majors of study are small, so people take all their classes with the same twenty or so students during their four years. It’s a great idea to study in Spain as an engineer because once you make friends with one Spaniard, they introduce you to their friends – everyone else in your class! One very sunny day ten of my statistics classmates invited me to a picnic, we went to the supermarket right near the campus, got Spanish Tortilla, meats, cheeses, and other fun things to share and sat on the lawn to talk and enjoy our food. Then we all took the train back to Madrid! Many days after school I would enjoy a “merienda”, or afternoon snack, with friends. Typically this would be a tostada, toast with toppings on it, and a café or té at one of the many unique cafes in Madrid.
My experience in Spain taught me first of all, to never be afraid of extreme change and that I will find great friends wherever I go and arrive to a new rhythm of life. It also expanded my view of the world, to understand that there is a huge wealth of knowledge outside of what we learn in the U.S., especially in the arts and creative fields. I believe that it is extremely important for us engineers to focus on our studies, but also to not lose sight of the world around us – there are many different ways to learn similar technical skills, and people around the world engineer things very differently. I know we are fans of “one right answer”, but we should all learn that nothing can be so simple.
~Eleanor, mechanical engineering