Studying abroad for a year is more than just visiting a city and seeing all of the tourist parts. It’s about finding a niche, trying to make friends, and attempting a life. However, being here for an extended amount of time with classes, teaching, traveling, and everything else makes it’s easy to get stretched thin and lost in the day-to-day tasks. This can cause me to want to just relax and stay in, but then I feel as if I’m wasting my time here.
To combat this, I get lost.
Madrid is a big city and there are still many parts of it I have yet to discover. My new down time is to go out for a walk with no destination in mind. This is not only a great way to clear my head, but I am able to find hidden gems of the city and practice my Spanish by reading new signs and listening to the people on the streets.
For those worried about me (Mom, this is to you) – don’t worry. I still know about what part of the city I’m in and there are metro stops every few minutes’ walk that will rush me back home if need be.
This is the best way to piece together the city. My sense of direction is getting better and I now know where almost all of the neighborhoods in Madrid are. My favorite neighborhood is Malasaña. It’s a “hip” neighborhood, as some may call it. I found this area one day at the beginning of the semester when looking for a certain bakery. I stumbled upon the street of vintage shops and knew I found my place.
A few days ago, a couple of friends and I were a bit lost walking home and again walked into this neighborhood. We found a record shop and comic store that I soon will return to. The first time I stumbled upon this area, I had no idea how close it was to my apartment. Now that I know, I intend to frequent this part of Madrid more often.
I’ve gotten the consensus from most people in my program that they all love to walk out and get lost within the streets of Madrid to find out where they are and the beautiful places around. I quite think that it is one of the best and most fun ways to understand where you live. I encourage everyone to do it at home, when studying abroad, or just when visiting a city.