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I wanted to email you some things about Madrid. Hopefully some of these things are useful for you. I hope you’re getting excited!!!
Tips for Studying Abroad in Madrid
- If you need a toothbrush or hand soap, don’t go to la farmacia because their selection is tiny and generally it’s very expensive and for more specialty items (e.g. sensitive skin soap or something). Go to the supermarket for that.
- Cell phones: I’m not sure if you’re planning to get a phone there or not, but if you aren’t bringing your iphone with you and you are renting a phone, then the following information is good to know: “recargar tu mobil” (add more money onto it) at the supermarket. Also, do this before you leave the country, as they may not have your phone carrier in a different country, so if you run out of money on your phone while you’re traveling, you may not be able to put any more on until you return to Spain.
- Safety: cross the body bag. be aware of your bag at all times. I often walked with my hand on my bag, partially because it was comfortable to do so, and partially because of safety. Don’t go to a cash machine alone at night. Use your head.
- If you’re a vegetarian, want to pretend you are, or if you have friends who are, this is good to know: their vegetarian sandwich may come with tuna on it. Spaniards don’t really understand what it means to be a vegetarian all the time. so if you’re getting a sandwich and you don’t want any animal meat on it, ask if it has meat, chicken, or fish on it, before you order.
- When you go out to the discoteca, note that it doesn’t get hopping until like 2. it usually stays open until 6. note that when you go out, you meet your friends to pregame at like 11:30 or 12, and go to the discoteca (or your bar/dancing location of choice) at like 1:30, and come home between 4 and 6:30am. so just remember that when it comes to your shoe choices. your feet will thank me later for that tip.
- People smoke cigarettes in Spain. young people very often. Don’t do this. It’s gross, and then you’ll come back to America being a smoker. ew.
- Buy your hair straightener there. that’s what i did. it was probably like 50 euros, but it worked well, and i didn’t have to worry about killing my American one.
- Keep copies of your passport and credit cards (back and front) hidden in your dorm room. if they are stolen from your purse, you’ll be able to call up your credit card company a lot easier.
- WALK AROUND. i can’t stress this enough. it’s the best way to get to know madrid. that’s what i did. i walked around by myself frequently, and really learned a lot about the city. yes, i got lost a few times, but not that badly. you can always ask someone for directions, as well as just hop on the metro and find your way back that way. but it was really a great way to get to know the city. and i knew it so well by the end. it’s also good exercise.
- MAKE SPANISH FRIENDS. No, really. Do it. It was one of the best things i did, and it is one of the things people most regret not doing while abroad.
- Americans stick out in Spain. they’re just louder, and more self-important. In addition, they’re more obnoxious when they drink. a lot more obnoxious. Don’t be this type of American. It’s not cute.
- Dancing: Spanish people don’t really grind. Spanish guys grind with American girls bc they’re willing to do it, but it just seemed super sketchy to me whenever i did it with Spanish guys. they also suck at it bc they don’t realize there’s more to it than hip thrusting. there’s a fine line between grinding and what they do, and i can’t explain it, but they cross it with American girls, not Spanish girls. You’ll see. I’m not saying don’t have fun when you’re out, bc i obviously am all about the fun, but still.
Vocabulary List for Studying Abroad in Madrid
– bocadillo – a sandwich made on a baguette
– sandwich – a sandwich made on slices of bread
– tener un rollo – to have a hookup
– tinto de verano – a drink made of red wine and fanta, different from sangria
– chupitos – shots (of alcohol). chupitos gratis = free shots. remember that.
– menos mal – thank god (no idea why this means thank god, but it does)
– salir – it can mean “to leave” of course, but it also means “to go out/to go out partying”
Tips for Traveling outside of Madrid
– RyanAir is cheap. it’s strange though. be forewarned that they sell lottery tickets, perfume, and smokeless cigarettes on board. and they’re often delayed, at least in my experiences. Pack VERY light if you’re taking them for a weekend of travel, as they have strict bag size/weight limits. Also, they limit you to one bag, so if you have a purse, it has to go inside of the bag that you take on with you, at least until you get on board. Also, be sure to print your ticket beforehand, bc they charge you a TON if they need to print it for you. Also, the seating and overhead bins are first come first serve, so line up for the flight when everyone else starts to do so (people start lining up very early, well before the flight attendants announce that you should). Also, i don’t know anyone who ever checked a bag with Ryanair, they charge you to do so.
– Hostels: read www.hostelworld.com for reviews of hostels before you book them. I never stayed in a bad hostel, but just don’t expect them to be palaces. They’re for sleeping. Also, they often have small storage lockers you can rent cheaply, in order to store your valuables (like credit cards, passport, etc), and i suggest you take advantage of this. Also, they may require you to pay to use one of their towels, so i tried to bring one with me on my weekends away.
Things to Do in Madrid for Study Abroad Students (shopping, clubs, and touristing)
– Shopping: go to the “Sol” stop on the metro. It’s the center of madrid basically. there’s a ton of shopping in this area, and they’re all normal stores basically, nothing too pricey, and some of it very cheap. I went here all the time. specific stores: stradivarius, h&m (way better in europe than in america), el corte ingles, and a bunch more.
– 100 montaditos – this is a cool restaurant, and they have a bunch around madrid. you go, and you fill out a list of sandwiches/bocadillos that you want, and all the sandwiches are under 2 euros. they’re small, so you should get like 3. but they’re all really good and you get to try several different ones, so its nice.
– Maoz – its this smallllll restaurant/stand in sol, and it sells falafel. it’s cheap and it’s good, and you can put whatever toppings you want on it.
– Museo del jamon: i’m not 100% sure but i think they have these around spain, not just in madrid. they’re basically bar restaurants that you can order bocadillos. they’re specialty is ham, obviously, but i think they have other things, like tortilla espanola as well, which is good in a sandwich. it’s cheap to eat there, very cheap.
– All around spain is a department store called “el corte ingles”. it has everything you need, from electronics, to food, to books, to clothes and shoes. but it’s very expensive, especially the supermarket, but everything else too, so it’s not where you should go for every single need and want.
– Mallorquina – it’s a bakery in sol (right near maoz) that is pretty well known. you can get nice little pastries and cookies here.
– Kapital – it’s a discoteca in madrid. it’s often expensive to get in (18 euros on some nights) but its worth it bc its fun. theres like 6 different levels, and each is a different atmosphere, ranging from lounge to club. do NOT buy drinks here though. your entrance fee includes 1 drink, but other than that, the drinks are really expensive, so you should pregame first.
– Joy – another discoteca, some people like it, but i wasn’t a huge fan most of the time.
– Areas to go to bars: sol, tribunal (those are the metro stops). there are also discotecas in these areas
– Metro: it’s amaaaazing. you can get everywhere you wanna go quickly and easily, and it’s not that expensive either. it shuts down from like 1:30 to 6 though, so there are things called bujos (night buses), which you should figure out how to use, since cabs can be expensive to take all the time. once in a while is fine, but not all the time.
– Touristy things: do them all. pace yourself. i know you have to do cultural things all the time, so you won’t have a problem doing all the touristy things. but do em all!
– El rastro: on sunday mornings, this huge flea market occurs. every sunday. it’s so huge, and you can get tons of things here, from antiques to touristy things to hippie things, to CDs. you should go. get off at metro stop “la latina” and follow the crowd. trust me, on a sunday morning, there will be a crowd, and this crowd will all be going to the rastro.
– Stay away from restaurants that look too touristy, as they generally suck.
– Dia – a cheap and good supermarket in madrid. i went into supermarkets all the time bc its interesting lol. usually i’d come out with one thing.
if you have any questions about anything, please contact me! i’m going to miss you tons (probably way more than you’re going to miss me, since you’ll be off having this exciting life abroad), and i have no life, so I’d be happy to help you out! but I do want frequent updates!