In my opinion Madrid, as a city, is super beautiful. The city is filled with stunning buildings and historical monuments, which I’ve had the chance to admire multiple times during my exchange. Watching the sunsets from rooftop terraces in Madrid has been one of my favorite things. Although I love Madrid as a city, the only thing I’ve missed is a beach. Especially in early fall when temperatures were still high, it would have been a perfect way to spend a day in a beach.
One of the biggest challenges I faced upon arriving in Madrid was that Spanish people didn’t speak English as fluently as I had expected. This surprised me, and quickly I realized that I needed to learn to speak Spanish to communicate effectively. Initially, this was difficult, but I’ve put in a lot of effort to learn the language, and now I notice that my Spanish has improved significantly. Learning Spanish has opened doors to the local culture and helped me to establish deeper connections with local people.
I find Madrid’s metro system to be really fast and efficient, even though the metro tunnels can get quite hot, especially during the summer time. Metros provide a convenient way to get from one place to another, and overall, everything seems to be very close to each other, unlike my experience in Barcelona, for example.
Finding accommodation in Madrid turned out to be a real challenge, and I hadn’t a place to stay even after the first month even though I started to search an apartment early in the summer. In addition, housing conditions in general, are slightly worse than what I have used to in Finland.
When I was deciding which university in Madrid I want to apply for, I had heard that the professors in universities don’t speak english so it is hard to get teaching in english. I ended up applying to Francisco de Vitoria University, which has been a pleasantly surprising experience. Every professor speaks good english, and also the quality of education was good. I also think there’s an appropriate balance between studying in and outside of class. Studying at Proakatemia already differs from the typical Finnish study style, so it’s been nice to try the “regular” university way of learning. The university is a bit farther from the center of Madrid, but I still wouldn’t trade it. There are private shuttles to the university, which I have used throughout my exchange.
Overall, my exchange experience in Madrid has been unvelievable in a good way and I wouldn’t trade this city as my exchange destination for anything. I have grown as a person, learned about a new culture, and made friends from around the world.
I really recommend Madrid as an exchange destination!