Hi everyone! My name is Lauren Strumpf and I am a Junior at Marist College. I am a Spanish Secondary Education major with a minor in Psychology. I am currently studying abroad in Madrid, Spain. Choosing to study abroad was one of the best decisions I have ever made. It is something everyone should do during their four years at college. Living in a different country, experiencing a new culture, speaking a foreign language, and traveling throughout Europe were things I once dreamed about, and they finally became a reality for me this semester. Before coming to Spain I definitely had many fears about the language barrier, missing school, family, and friends, and culture shock I would encounter in a foreign country, but within the first few weeks of being in Madrid I started to feel more comfortable with my surroundings. I gained more confidence with my Spanish speaking abilities, figured out how to use the Metro system efficiently, and learned how to make some traditional Spanish foods. I have a great support system with me here in Spain. There are 10 students from Marist and 4 students from Stetson University in my program group. In a way, we
are like a family. We all live about a metro stop or two away from each other. We all live with different señoras (host moms.) Some of us even have host brothers, sisters, cousins, etc. All of the señoras are amazing cooks! I always finish my plate. Paella, tortilla Española, croquetas, and chorizo are my favorite. My señora cooks, cleans, and washes my clothes for me. I´m definitely not complaining! All of the Marist and Stetson students attend the Universidad Carlos III. The campus is beautiful, the professors are nice, and all of the classes are held in Spanish, which has been very helpful. Our program at the university has many American students from schools such as Vassar, Boston College, and Johns Hopkins. I have met many American and Spanish friends!
In my free time I like to meet up with friends for café con leche and churros con chocolate (coffee with milk and churros with chocolate), visit different museums and landmarks, and watch Spanish movies with my señora. I have seen two flamenco shows, been to a bullfight at the famous Plaza de Toros de las Ventas, took a tour through the Prado museum, shopped at the popular Rastro outdoor market, and rowed a boat in the beautiful Parque del Retiro. My parents even visited me in September. It was fun showing them around the city. I definitely used my tour guiding skills that I learned at Marist!
So far I have traveled to several cities within Spain such as Castilla la Mancha, Cuenca, and Barcelona as well as places outside of Spain including Munich (for Oktoberfest), Dachau Concentration Camp, several cities in Morocco, Dublin, and Paris. My next big trip is London. I will be staying with several Marist students. It has been fun meeting up with other Marist abroad students in different countries. I have enjoyed listening and sharing stories about life in Europe. I also plan on visiting Toledo and Cordoba (two cities in Spain) within my last month here. One event I am especially excited for is Thanksgiving Dinner with my program group at Botín, the oldest restaurant in the world. Since I will not be home in time for Thanksgiving with my family, my resident director, Isabel, planned a special evening for my group with all of our señoras. It should be a great night of food, friends, and fun.
I can´t believe I only have a month left in Spain. It has gone by way too fast! I still have so much to learn and so many places to explore. I hope to attend a Real Madrid game, visit the Reina Sofia and Palacio Real, and see a Spanish Opera. Even though at times I have felt homesick, I have not let it get in the away of my time here. I have thoroughly enjoyed my experience in Spain and throughout Europe. I have met amazing people, improved my language skills, seen some amazing sites, and tasted some amazing food. I know I will never get an experience like this again. I have to say thank you to Marist College and to my parents for making this former dream of mine a reality. I can´t wait to return to Marist next semester and share my stories with future abroad students!
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain
Interested in going abroad? Check out Marist’s International Programs website: http://www.marist.edu/international/
If you have any questions about my experience, please comment on this blog and I will respond to you!
Lauren Strumpf 🙂
Follow me on twitter: MaristLStrumpf
Check out my abroad photos from Europe: http://www.google.com/profiles/MaristLStrumpf