Participating in two sessions this summer in Spain means that I get to have the experience of staying in two different host locations: one in the peaceful town of San Lorenzo and one in Spain’s bustling capital, Madrid.  These two locations could not be more different which has kept things exciting.

In San Lorenzo, things moved at a much slower pace than I’m used to back at UA.  The stores in San Lorenzo close at 2:00 in the afternoon and do not open back up again until about 5:00.  I would take my “siesta” around this time and when I woke up I would have a snack or get “tapas” because, in San Lorenzo, nobody is in a hurry to have dinner, which we did not have until 9:15 every night.  Additionally, I knew where everything and everyone was.  If I wanted to get something to eat, I knew I could always find other members of our group at the pizza place or at the famous “Los Valencianos” ice cream shop without even asking.  On the way, I would recognize a lot of the locals too.  Being assigned conversation partners was the best way to meet the locals.  The conversation partners were San Lorenzo natives about our age.  Spending time with them made me feel less like a tourist and more like a local myself, which is an experience most people do not get the privilege of having while abroad.

in San Lorenzo, we experienced the culture of Spain by meeting the locals.  In Madrid, we get to learn about the culture by visiting the nearby museums.  We have already gone to four museums in Madrid alone and we’re off to another one tomorrow.  It’s a bit less relaxed in Madrid, but I find the constant activity of the city exciting.  I cannot walk everywhere or find things and people as easily as in San Lorenzo, but I can take the metro anywhere and eat at places that serve food other than pizza or ice cream (as awesome as that was while it lasted) for a change.  Likewise, the list of places to explore here in Madrid is endless.  Contrary to San Lorenzo, no day in Madrid is the same.

Two months can seem like a long time, but the change in scenery has made this trip fly by.  Staying in two different host locations has made my study abroad experience all the more enriching and enjoyable.