By Mahesh Deshpande, ’15
Hola from the Spanish Capital!
It’s already been a month in Madrid, and with few days left for our module studying at Universidad de Madrid to coming to an end, I’ve started to realize what an amazing journey it has been. Most of us couldn’t utter a word of Spanish when we landed at Madrid (not that we’ve become an experts in a month!). We’ve learned enough, not just to survive, but to make a few friends as well. Some have even utilized their language learning skills in making business connections while few have successfully flirted in a language completely unknown to them till a few weeks ago.
Looking back, I thought I’d highlight some life lessons we imbibed, by studying in a campus outside the US:
First, how to survive when you are out of our comfort zone.
Getting used to the Madrid environment was more challenging than our initial days at Glendale. Starting from finding a place to stay, locating the tobacco shops where metro passes are sold, ordering a Café con Leche (Caliente) to getting used to one week courses, and online courses, it has been a great learning curve. The more quickly we get used to these uncomfortable situations, the better we are at facing challenges post-graduation, which could put us out of our comfort zone.
Second, what a great way to explore another country and different culture.
Can you think of a better way to explore Europe and its culture other than studying there for a month with your friends? The fun you can have with friends while being a student is far better than the experience of working in Europe or of visiting as a tourist. As mentioned in the previous pieces by my friends, T-birds have already explored tourist destinations such as Barcelona, Toledo, Segovia, and Avila. Along with my fellow T-birds, we have already driven down to Southern Spain to visit the magnificent palaces at Granada, Seville, and Cordoba and are planning to drive up north next week to explore the authentic Spanish cuisines at San Sebastian and Bilbao. Exploring Madrid City in itself is a superb experience. You will never regret getting lost in the stunning streets of Madrid. You may not always get the food you ordered, but you will love whatever you get. Visiting Museuo del Jamon (Museum of Ham) at Plaza Mayor, with Dr. Dash and the entire class for lunch and celebrating a T-bird’s birthday at the museum was very memorable.
Third, this experience has made us humble human-beings.
Travelling to unknown destinations, interacting with people in an alien language, living in unexpected conditions, makes one humble, if not anything else. Arrogant are those who have little explored the world, who have never been out of their cocoons nor interacted with different cultures.
So to all those who are thinking of whether it’s worth studying a module abroad, I would urge to get out of your comfort zone, explore other parts of the world and transform yourself.