I’ve wanted to study abroad ever since I graduated high school. I knew I wanted to go to a Spanish-speaking country to further my language proficiency, but besides that, I didn’t have much else planned. As soon as I started my sophomore year, I began researching which study abroad option was best for me. The more time I spent reading about International Studies Abroad at Alabama, the more I realized the sky was the limit for choosing a study abroad program. Every country I had ever dreamed of visiting was an option, and the sheer number of different programs provided me with ample flexibility, reassuring me that I could find one that would work with my complicated degree completion plan and busy schedule. The program I ended up going with instead was ISA: Spanish Language and Culture in Madrid. I chose this program because it offered classes that would fulfill my Spanish minor requirements and because I liked the idea of living in a big city.
Now that my program is ending, I’ve gone to just about all the major cities in Spain: Madrid, Málaga, Granada, Segovia, Salamanca, Chinchón, Barcelona, Seville, Valencia, Córdoba, and San Sebastian. Madrid is easily my favorite. During the full two months of my program, I never felt like I had run out of things to do. There was always another museum to see, “barrio” (neighborhood) to explore, café to sip café con leche at, and park to stroll in. And since Madrid is in the heart of Spain, it was super easy to travel to all those other cities for weekend trips. Transportation within the city itself was even more convenient. After purchasing an inexpensive transportation card, you can use the Metro or any bus an unlimited number of times for the next month. The metro in Madrid is simple to navigate and much cleaner than the subways in New York City. I walked more in those two months than I did in probably my whole life (according to my phone, my average walking distance was 7 miles a day in June and 8 in July), but I preferred this since I was able to see more (Madrid has the coolest murals, graffiti, and civic art.) and stay active traveling on foot. For these reasons and many more, I highly recommend Madrid for people wanting to study abroad in Spain.