One of the things I was most excited about for study abroad was the chance to live in a big city. Growing up in the midwest, I’ve never lived in a place as big as Madrid, but I always loved visiting cities like New York and Chicago. The past three months have allowed me to explore and discover my favorite things about living in the Spanish capital and helped make it my second home.
Like any big city, Madrid is filled with so much beautiful culture. The people, the food, the music and art, and the atmosphere in general were so lively and fun to learn about and experience. There is always something going on somewhere in the city so it’s impossible to be bored. Each neighborhood in Madrid has its own feel and pace, and I loved getting to know some of them during my time abroad. Sometimes getting lost or just wandering around led me to some of my favorite spots!
It might sound a little silly, but the metro was one of my favorite parts of living in Madrid. My host mom’s apartment was conveniently located right next to a metro stop so I could hop right on and be anywhere in the city in a short amount of time. Being able to get around so quickly made me really appreciate the great public transportation Madrid had to offer and is one reason I loved living there.
If you’re like me and love shopping, Madrid has plenty to offer. Gran Via has all the major stores and big city feels of Michigan Avenue in Chicago, the shops on Calle de Serrano mirror the upscale feel of New York City’s 5th Avenue, and the Malasaña neighborhood is filled with tons of cool thrift stores. Madrid really has something for everyone.
The Green Space
Madrid may be a big city, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t spaces to enjoy the outdoors. Places like Retiro Park and Casa de Campo are perfect for taking a walk, enjoying a picnic, or just spending time with friends when the weather is beautiful. Exploring Retiro was one of my favorite things to do when it was nice out. My friends and I loved taking boats out onto the big pond and just relaxing.
Madrid is in a great central location that makes it easy to get to other parts of Spain very easily. Places like Segovia, Toledo, and the beautiful Sierra de Guadarrama mountains are within a day trip’s distance. My friends and I especially loved going to the mountains to hike. The beautiful views made it hard to believe that a big city like Madrid was just a short train ride away!