Hola!! Tamara aqui.
I first visited Madrid two years ago, during a post-hsc euro trip. In love with the vibrancy, the urban blend of old and new, and the culture, I knew this was a city I could live in. I also knew exchange was on the cards, so I put them both together, and BOOM, after a fairly straightforward UTS exchange progress, exchange in Spain ensued.
So, I am on the brink of beginning my exchange at IE Universidad in Segovia, a small, picturesque town one hour from Madrid. I wanted to experience something different from the hustle and bustle of city life that I know too well in Sydney, and thus decided the ancient town of Segovia would be a perfect compromise. It has the most preserved aqueduct (pictured below) and a beautiful castle that inspired Walt Disney’s castle. The university itself is like something out of a Harry Potter movie.
I have spent the last six weeks of Europe’s blissful summer travelling around Italy and Portugal, as well as going to Europe’s largest reggae festival on the east coast of Spain. My inner backpacker has had its fill of hostel beds, wild parties, new friends and crazy experiences, so two weeks before classes started, I returned to my beloved Madrid to begin my apartment hunt. This was always something I was worried about. I live with my parents in Sydney, so I have never had to find an apartment before. I had tried using my IE Universidad’s Facebook housing page but had no success, as I am only staying for one semester and nobody wanted to rent for less than six months. There was one apartment I absolutely loved, with an incredible view, cheap and spacious, but it was taken. So I looked on Idealista, and got in contact with a few willing real estate agents. I commuted to Segovia to see some apartments, and then just this morning as I was about to return to Segovia to continue searching, the agent of that apartment I loved called and told me there was an available room. Tomorrow I will sign the contract, simple as that! In sum, I left my apartment search quite late, but still had no problem finding a beautiful place to live (view from kitchen pictured below), it was really easy and I recommend the Idealista website.
I can’t wait to begin life in Segovia. I have done a lot of solo travelling since leaving high school, so I’m far more excited than apprehensive to begin this new foreign life. For those considering an exchange or packing their bags ready to go, my advice is to dive in head first. Say yes to everything (within reason) but also listen to your intuition, it is almost always right. Let go of inhibition and enjoy the ride. I haven’t even begun my exchange yet, but if it’s anything like the last few months I know it will be wild.
MY GREATEST PIECE OF ADVICE: learn the language of your exchange destination please!!! I spent a year and a half doing Spanish at UTS and it most definitely paid off. Not because of the awesome amigos I made in Spanish class (although definitely a factor), but because I am here in Spain speaking with locals, learning about the Spanish experience, cheering with amigos (Salu!!) and hearing and grieving about the recent terror attack, unemployment and economic strife first hand. When you know the language you’re not just another tourist getting an egotistical high off the country’s culture, you’re a traveller engaging and learning about the nation. Much greater and deeper opportunities lie ahead when you can speak with locals, and they really appreciate the effort. So go! Empieza a estudiar!
Much love to UTS and Sydney, but not missing you just yet…
Bachelor of Global Studies
IE Universidad, Segovia Campus, Spain.