Greetings from Spain: My Semester Abroad

Catherine Boudreau

Hola a todos! I am Catherine Boudreau and a sophomore at Quinnipiac. I am writing from Madrid, Spain, where I will be for the next four months studying abroad.

Since my freshman year of high school I have dreamed of being fluent in Spanish. I always knew that I would study abroad, and originally I thought I would go to Barcelona. But when I found out that mainly Catalan was spoken there instead of Spanish, I immediately decided to come to Madrid.

The process of getting here and getting settled can only be described as a roller coaster ride. I came here not knowing a single person. The first weekend here all of the students in my program, API, stayed in a hotel together for orientation. As soon as I felt comfortable there and made some friends, it was time to move into my “residencia.”

At first, I was completely depressed about my living situation. I was the only girl from my program in my dorm and I was under the impression that I wasn’t going to have a roommate. Also, a couple of the friends I had made during orientation had an apartment together, so that left me feeling a little exiled.

By the next day, however, my emotions took a complete turn. Relief washed over me as my roommate walked in that afternoon. I also have a housekeeper, Amelia, who cleans my room everyday and does my laundry. It even comes back nicely pressed! Our chef, Enrique, is the sweetest man and makes awesome food. Most importantly, I am constantly speaking Spanish with the other students who live here, as well as with Amelia and Enrique. Many of them speak no English at all.

It is more like an apartment than a dorm since there are only 14 students. One of the other dorms has more than 100 kids and the food is definitely not as good. Plus, if I didn’t like what was for dinner one night, Enrique would make me something else.

Another major adjustment is school. I go to Universidad Antonio de Nebrija, which is about 30 minutes away by metro. The metro is really awesome and so easy to use, but I have to be cautious in the morning when it is really packed. Pickpocketing is like an art form in Madrid. The first week I almost got pickpocketed on the metro. The thief looked like your average Joe on his way to work. When I felt someone rummaging around in my backpack, I immediately elbowed him really hard in the chest and yelled “Excuse me!” Luckily he didn’t get away with anything. Now I am always on the lookout!

Until next time! Hasta la proximo vez!