Say Yes and Make Madrid Your Campus
by Jamie Brew, DPT Class of 2020
I chose to study in Madrid for multiple reasons. Logistically, it made the most sense financially as well as in terms of guaranteeing class credits. I also chose Madrid because I knew going to study abroad was already stepping outside of my comfort zone, but having people that I knew there with me would definitely help with my adjustment to living abroad. Having taken Spanish since the fifth grade also played a role in my decision.
I had talked to many students who had studied in Madrid before, so I thought I had a pretty good idea of how the semester would go. I knew I would be traveling a lot, and I also knew that I was going to have to say “yes” to a lot more things, whether it be to food or even just an event I wouldn’t normally want to go to. Before leaving, I was both excited and nervous. I was excited to get the chance to travel, but nervous about staying with a host family and not being able to communicate very well. I also didn’t know who half of the girls that I would be living with were, so that added to my anxiety about it.
|Catedral de Almudena|
Going into abroad, I had mostly envisioned myself traveling outside of Spain a lot. What really surprised me was how much I grew to love Madrid. There were weekends that I would dread traveling because I wanted to be able to explore more of Madrid or spend more time with my host parents. I had done some research on the Spanish culture, so I can’t say that I was incredibly surprised by my interactions with the locals. Of anything, I wished I had interacted even more than them, although it is tough when my Spanish vocabulary is just not as large as I would like. The culture is really something to embrace. It is much more laid back than here in the States (you also learn to call America “the States”), and just overall a very different lifestyle that I feel very fortunate to have embraced.
Trying to think of the most impressive thing I saw is very difficult, because there was not a single thing that I thought, “yeah, I’m not really that impressed”. Major spots in Madrid are Palacio Real, Catedral de La Almudena, Parque del Retiro, Temple of Debod, Museo del Prado, Plaza de Mayor and Mercado de San Miguel. Each of these places are so unique to Madrid, and visiting these really enhances the cultural experience.
A famous plate in Spain is paella, a rice and chicken or seafood mix. Personally, I was not a huge fan of paella (no offense to Maria, my host mom), but everyone seemed to love it there. You can get it almost anywhere, usually served in a massive pan. My host mom couldn’t even cook it on our stovetop, she had to bring in a separate appliance to cook it.
While studying in Madrid, I was able to observe a physical therapist, Susie, who was also a dance teacher at SLU Madrid. She hosted three seminars throughout the semester that any student could sign up for, although many did not know about this opportunity. Her seminars were focused on ankle sprains, patellar tendinitis, and epicondylitis (golf elbow). In these seminars, Susie first discussed the anatomy associated with the theme for the day, and then either had us look at her patient or work on each other to understand how to best treat it. This was a very unique experience, and I highly recommend to any PT students going to study abroad to ask about this the very first week so that they can work it in their schedules to attend.
|Real Madrid game at Santiago Bernabéu Stadium|
Another unique opportunity offered when studying abroad in Madrid is the host family experience. Rather than living in a form of campus housing or finding your own apartment to lease, you can choose to stay with a Spanish family who can cook and clean for you. Other than relying on them for chores, I was also able to form an incredibly special bond to my host parents which really aided in being more immersed in the culture and making Madrid feel like home.
|Me and my host parents, Maria y Luis|
This is one of several posts featuring SLU PT Student study abroad experiences. Because of its unique format, the SLU PT program gives students the ability to study abroad the fall of their junior year. For more information about study abroad experiences at SLU go to: http://www.slu.edu/study-abroad.