Exploring Spain

Hola!   My name is Benjamin and I recently studied abroad in Madrid, Spain at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid.  I am a third year junior, and I study Entrepreneurship at the Foster School.

My upbringing in the San Francisco Bay Area, which included an exposure to different cultures, a love for learning Spanish, and above all, wonderful food, is partly responsible for why I decided to spend a semester abroad in Madrid for Fall 2008.  My reasons to study abroad were (and still are!) many, which included a desire to meet interesting new people from all over the world, improve my Spanish proficiency, travel, and a yearning for the opportunity to plain and simply “live it up”.  Moreover, the change of scenery that comes with studying abroad for me was a true breath of fresh air and a chance to really discover myself.

My stay in Spain lasted from September 1 to December 22.  Intermittently, I did some traveling to places such as Lisbon, Paris, Mallorca, and Cairo.  Recognizing the importance of not traveling every weekend as some of my classmates did, I made a strong effort during the first half of my trip to limit my travels and stay in Madrid as much as possible.  This way, I was able to truly take in the Spanish culture of my host city, really better my Spanish, and more importantly, I invested more time and energy in friendships with fellow Spaniards (and other foreigners), whom I plan to stay in touch with regularly.

At the university my classes were taught in Spanish by Spanish professors, however I took classes with fellow Americans from all over—all of the UC’s, Harvard, Washington University in St. Louis, etc.  They were challenging, yet very interesting.  The professors were down to earth and made every effort to ensure that we learned and felt welcome in their country.  Out of the four classes I took—Medio Ambiente (environment), Español para el uso profesional (Professional Spanish), literatura Espanola (Spanish literature), and lengua Espanola-nivel superior (superior level Spanish language)—Medio Ambiente was my favorite.  Taught by two male professors, class was very entertaining as the teachers always poked fun at each other.  Also, we went on three field trips (Segovia, and two in Madrid), and learned all about the environment in Spain.

In my next posts, I will touch on such topics as the incredible nightlife in Madrid, the cutting-edge food, and my living situation.

Benjamin Zuercher
Foster School- Entrepreneurship
Program on the Environment
Spanish Minor