In less than 10 days I will be leaving Madrid. I can’t believe how quickly this semester has gone by. I can’t say that I’m not excited to be going home, though. I’m leaving Spain when the program ends on December 20th like everyone else, and then I fly out of London on Christmas Eve and arrive home to California that same evening because of the time difference. This is the longest I have ever been away from home and not seeing my family, and I miss them so much. I’ll have about a month at home before heading back to Vassar to move in all my things for spring semester. During that time I plan on sleeping, working, binge watching TV, spending quality time with my family, seeing friends, working (not academic), playing with my dog, and eating lots of amazing Berkeley food. I also want to detox my body from all of the coffee and alcohol I’ve been drinking here and readjust to American mealtimes.
I’ve finished two finals so far and have two more to go next week. Academics have been the most frustrating part of my study abroad experience, mainly because I’m not used to the Spanish school system. But apart from that, this semester has been an overall great experience. I’d never been to Europe before and got to visit 10 countries, including Spain, which is more than I’d ever been to before. I was also able to visit over a dozen Spanish cities, including Madrid. Tomorrow we have a final group excursion to Alcalá de Henares. There, we’ll get to see everyone one last time over lunch and talk about some aspects of going home like culture shock. The places I went that I haven’t written about in previous blog posts are Berlin, Granada, and Amsterdam.
I had a really fun weekend in Berlin, where I traveled on my own and stayed with a friend from high school. It’s a city full of history and art, and the city pleasantly surprised me. We went to a of couple art museums, a museum and memorial site for the Holocaust, locations where the Berlin Wall used to stand, and some cool outdoor markets. I got to try bratwurst and currywurst (sausages) and ate a lot of doner kebab. One of my favorite (yet very random) things I got to do was see an opera of West Side Story, in which all of the songs were still English and there was a translation of German dialogue. The following weekend I went to Granada on a trip arranged by the Spanish university I attend. Though it was a really long ride from Madrid, I’m very happy I got to see the Alhambra, which is apparently the most visited tourist sight in Spain.
This past weekend I got to go to Amsterdam, which is probably the most expensive trip I’ve taken but also one of the most fun. We were a group of eight, which was the perfect number to have the hostel room to ourselves. There were actually four other Vassar students from Madrid in Amsterdam that weekend, whom we of course ran into. We went to the Anne Frank House, and some of us went to the Rijksmuseum while others went to the Van Gough Museum. We also went on a beautiful river cruise and went into a lot of coffee shops (which don’t actually sell coffee). This is my last weekend in Madrid, and then next weekend I head to London for a few days. I only got to go there for about a day and half last time, so I’m excited to be able to go back, especially when everything will be decorated for the holidays.
I still need to buy Christmas/Hanukkah presents for all of my family members because I have no shopping time when I get home. I also want to get a going away present for my host family. There are a couple flea markets I want to visit this weekend if I have time with all the studying I need to do. Once I’m done with my finals, I’ll need to pack everything and make sure that my bag weighs no more than 20kg (around 45 lbs). I’ve already thrown out some things such as items of clothing that have ripped and recycled my notes from classes I’m done with. I definitely over packed as usual but I think I still have enough room for souvenirs. This last week is all about spending some time with my host family and doing some final things in Madrid. I finally got to go to my first soccer game a few days ago. I still want to go to a certain club with some friends and eat all of my favorite Spanish foods one last time.