Going Abroad can be an extremely formative and educational experience. Read on for third year Spanish and Literature student, Penelope Polly-Anna Lewis-Jones’s, musings on the lessons she has learned while Abroad. 

When I first arrived here, in Madrid, I was immediately struck by the vibrancy of the culture. These are some of the most beautiful people I have ever seen: The Spanish are a culture without Western influences, or colonial history, to taint their raw experience of life. Upon arriving, I was introduced to some local music called “Baila Conmigo” by a native called Juan Magan. “Baila Conmigo” roughly translates to “Dance with me” and the song beautifully encapsulates the little-known Spanish sentiment of simply letting go and enjoying life. (link here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=robkYOW0X2c)

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Edgy as *f*

One thing I found charming about the locals of Madrid was that when I tried to order some of their local cuisine (which came from a van!) speaking in their dialect, they quickly realised that I was English and responded in kind. however when I expressed how impressed I was with their linguistic ability, they must have not understood because they looked at me weirdly. At that moment I began to feel overwhelmed: here I was, in an alien country, alone, trying to navigate what was clearly a very different culture from my own. Tears came into my eyes. I was afraid of failure. Everything went blurry and I had to have a sit down.

After meditating for two hours, and eating a large amount of olive tapenade on melba toast, my mind felt rejuvenated once more, and I was excited and ready to explore the city. So I decided to go to the cinema to catch some more Spanish culture. I saw a Spanish translation of “Step Up 2 The Streets”, and it was somehow purer and more beautiful than the English version! After that, I took a stroll around the paseo, marvelling at the people who stood on corners, pedalling hand bags, purses and watches. I managed to buy a genuine Rolex for 100 euros from one, and I haggled it down from 150 euros! I then arrived at the market, but I was deterred from actually entering because the strong smell of fish put me off. I had one of those deep spiritual moments they warn you about, standing on a crossing island in the middle of the roads, staring up at the sky and imagining what the stars would look like if there was less light pollution.

I got back to my room at around 9 in the evening, and was so tired from my wonderful day that I chose to stay in and get an early night. I am hopeful, grateful and excited to see what tomorrow will bring!

Wasn’t that inspiring? 

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