You Know You’re on Study Abroad in Madrid When…

Rachel Daley is a student at Soka University of America and an ISA Featured Blogger. Rachel is currently studying abroad in Madrid on an ISA Fall 1 program.

1.    You put on more mileage than a marathon runner.

  • Okay this is an exaggeration… slightly. Investing in a couple good pairs of shoes wouldn’t be such a bad idea, since my sandals gave out on me after the first month of cobblestone miles.

2.    A coin is worth too much to throw in a fountain.

  • Usually at home after a year of saving my leftover coins, I might have 10 bucks saved if I’m lucky.  But here, a coin can be worth up to about $2.50! (By the time you convert it).  So don’t forget about the loose change hiding in your pockets, it’s worth something!

    It adds up!

3. It’s normal to stare on the metro.

  • My Spanish professor at school told us that many Spaniards are “cotillas”, meaning their curiosity for other people is pretty high.  So it’s no surprise that you’ll catch a few pairs of eyes on you while you’re minding your own business on your way to 100 Montaditos for lunch.  At first it’s just plain weird and you start wondering if there’s something on your face that shouldn’t be there, but you’ll come to realize that in fact, your face is just fine.

4.    Your choices of drink are Fanta, beer, Fanta, sangria, and did I mention Fanta?

  • They say drinking sangria in the summertime here is the epitome of being Spanish… but if anything makes you an official Spaniard, it would be drinking Fanta. They just can’t get enough of the stuff!  Forget about root beer and Cactus Cooler, because Fanta has taken their spots.

    There’s more to Spain than Sangria!

5.    Your midnight snack turns into… dinner?!

  • Spaniards never sleep.  I’m convinced.  I don’t know how they do it… stay out late and then get up early like the rest of the world for work and school in the morning.  I thought maybe they had a later start to the day to compensate. NOPE.  So the whole timing of the day is a tad different.  It took me a good 3 weeks to get used to eating lunch at 3 pm, and then dinner as late as 10.

6.    Pigs fly?!

  • Get used to seeing huge legs of ham hanging from the ceilings of restaurants… especially in the “Museo del Jamon”.  The ham here isn’t your typical piece of bacon you’re used to, and they put it on EVERYTHING.
Never a shortage on ham…

7.    Begging is taken to a whole new level.

  • For free quality entertainment, look no further than Puerta del Solin the heart of the city.  Not a day goes by that without street performers doing their thing, hoping for a few extra euros.  Now these guys aren’t like bums sitting on the curbs of LA holding out a cup… these guys go to great lengths to catch your eye, and even defy gravity.

    Street performers pulling out all the stops

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