The Surprises of Studying Abroad - Center for Global Engagement

The Surprises of Studying Abroad

By: Alexa Miranda

The study abroad experience is a long but exciting one. From applying at TU and any secondary applications to finally flying out to live in a new city for 4 months, my emotions were at an all-time high at every waking moment. My name is Alexa Miranda and I studied abroad in Madrid, Spain in the Fall Semester 2022.

If I am being honest, applying to the school in Madrid was not my first choice because I already knew the language. I am a native Spanish speaker, so I was wanting to expand my horizons and possibly learn a new language while studying abroad. But I knew I had to find a school that would work with major related classes so I would not fall behind when coming back to TU and UC3M in Madrid worked well with that.

Before leaving to live in Madrid, I familiarized myself with some things, but I knew I would learn more in person. When first arriving to Madrid the first thing I noticed was how loud and busy the city was. Tulsa, OK is nothing compared to Madrid, but I knew I had to adjust since this was going to be my home for the next 4 months. I had to learn how to use the public transportation system such as the metro/buses the first day I was there because the is the main way of transportation besides walking. It was complicated at first, but with the help of Google Maps and the color coordinated metro lines, I was able to get around by myself after the first few weeks. Another thing is when in the underground metro system, on the escalators one has to always stand on the right side because people will be running up and down and will push people out of their way so they can catch the train. When eating out, it is not customary to tip the server which is definitely out of the ordinary because that is not how it is in the U.S. Another thing is that Spaniards to not really drink water with their meals because if one asks for water, they will be charged for it and sometimes a water costs more than some alcoholic beverages. Another surprise while living in Madrid is how people dress up for everything. In the U.S. people will be out in sweatpants/leggings and a hoodie and that is not common in Madrid, most people always have jeans or slacks on with a nice top.

There are many more things that came as a surprise to me while living in Madrid but learning how to adapt and not be scared of change is what one must be open to while studying abroad. I had the best experience while studying abroad. I traveled all through Europe (and some of Africa), met new people that are now some of my closest friends and best of all made one in a lifetime memories.