Last summer, all of us started into an adventure that none of us are ever going to forget. Bags packed, we spread out all over the world. On the third of September, I left rainy Hamburg and three hours later I landed in Madrid, where the summer wasn’t nearly over yet.
Madrid is the capital of Spain and with a population of 3.2 million it is not only the largest city in Spain but also the third largest in all of Europe.
So Madrid is quite big and finding your way around with public transport is just about a nightmare. I was missing my HVV app a lot, but after the first few days, I learned to manage and how to get to where I wanted to go. Obviously, not being able to speak Spanish properly wasn’t helping, but as time went on I picked up enough of the language to get by. Madrid is known for it’s international population, so you never feel out of place, no matter where in the world you come from.
The city is filled with beautiful parks, amazing architecture, museums and sights. One semester is not nearly enough to see all the beautiful things Madrid has to offer.
The summer heat can be quite overwhelming when you are used to the mild summers in northern Germany. But you get used to it pretty quickly and even in late October it was warmer than it gets in Hamburg all summer. So the weather alone makes a stay in Madrid worthwhile. The sun seemed to never stop shining and I remember us sitting outside after our graduation ceremony in December in shirts or dresses, no jacket in sight.
Coming from the Hamburg campus, I was used to one hallway in an office building in the middle of the city. As a contrast, the UFV campus has multiple buildings, tennis courts, football and American football fields, it’s own gym including a swimming pool, three cafeterias and a proper coffee shop. I was overwhelmed. But after a while it started to feel more and more like home. It is located a little bit outside the city, overlooking a valley and in the distance you can see the beautiful skyline of the city we all learned to love.
At the University itself, life didn’t actually seem all that different. Of course the teachers and other students were completely different people. But we went to class, handed in (and complained about) assignments and come exam season we studied day in and day out, panicked about due dates and hoped to at least pass some of our classes. Everything as it always is. And in the end, nothing was as bad as we made it out to be a week before.
Everything else was about as different as can be. From the winding streets in the late summer heat, the beautiful parks in the sunlight to the lively nights, sitting outside a bar, everything seems right out of a fairytale. The city makes you feel at home even if you have never been to Spain before or don’t speak a single word of Spanish. Everyone you meet just seems happy to be there, happy to help and happy to make you feel welcome.
Only two months ago I had to say goodbye to Madrid. But apart from (in my opinion) one of the most beautiful cities in the world, I also had to say goodbye to the people I met and the life, that I had in Spain. Going to Uni or School in another country, in another city for a short and limited period of time is always a difficult thing, because you start a new life with new people and new places and once the time is up you have to say goodbye to everything and everyone. I have made many new friends and no matter where they are from and how often I will see them in the future, we will always have those memories to look back on. Time flies and it feels like yesterday, that we were sitting outside a bar all night and it was still too warm to wear jeans. At the same time I feel like I have lived there and known these people for an eternity. In Madrid I found home away from home.
One of the smaller streets around the city center
View from the roof top bar at El Corte Inglés, Callao
Palacio de Cristal del Retiro
Madrid has the most beautiful sunrises.
Plaza de Oriente
El Retiro Park