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January 17, 2013 - 11:27pm

Study A-Blog, Madrid Edition: Too much traveling?


Graphic by Kristen Cleghorn

It may seem odd to begin my first post with the question of too much traveling — after all, this blog is centered on the wonders of travel. However, as I await my departure for Madrid, Spain next week, I find that my friends studying abroad in a variety of European countries are already preoccupied with coordinating trips to many other destinations. Naturally, I understand the interest. When else can you travel to multiple foreign countries with minimal expenditures on flight and — if you have a friend studying in the area — no cost for boarding? However, as I see my Google Calendar filling up with weekend travel plans, I begin to wonder whether I will be able to truly appreciate Madrid and all of its depth. After all, my original goal as a study abroad student was not merely to observe a foreign culture, but to embrace and become a part of the city.

As a typical New Yorker, my instincts push me toward fast-paced, keep-it-moving environments. Free time — what’s that? Let’s fill it with something. However, this mindset may be detrimental to my study abroad experience if not properly cautioned. It may be worth opting out of a long weekend to Brussels to see a concert in order to have more time exploring the smaller, less noticed details of Madrid, my home for a few months. There’s something to be said for using that time to go read in parks, stroll down streets filled with local vendors or even try out my Spanish with friendly madrileños. I want to leave Madrid with the sense of leaving a second home, not just an amazing vacation or party spot.

I’m excited to explore an alternate way of living over these next four months. As always, I know the key to my experience will be to keep an open mind and try things I’ve never been exposed to. I need to find a good balance between visiting friends in other countries and appreciating what I have right in front of me.