Is “Home” Madrid Now? What’s Seattle, WA?

Guest Post By: Whitney Tran, a Junior studying Information Systems. She is a Global Business Center Study Abroad Scholarship Recipient, and she studied abroad through a Foster Exchange and Direct Enroll at IE University in Madrid, Spain, during Spring Semester 2023.

It’s actually insane to think that I’ve lived in Madrid, Spain for 4 months now and honestly, I can’t imagine leaving anytime soon. I’m currently writing this blog post on the 20th floor of my university while looking out towards all of Madrid. It’s a beautiful, sunny day, 77 degrees Fahrenheit to be exact in the middle of April!! Seattle could never haha. But as my time at IE University and Madrid are coming to an end, I’ve done a lot of reflection recently and I look back at my experiences here with immense positivity. I would do anything in this world to relive this experience a million times over. While everyone’s study abroad experience is different, let me give you some insight of the before and now.

Don’t get me wrong, the process to study abroad was no easy feat. The months of waiting and planning were brutal from student visa applications to the housing search, it lowkey felt like a nightmare. For a while I convinced myself that studying abroad may not be in my cards. I was set to fly out January 4th but in early December there was still no sign of my student visa and I still hadn’t found an apartment or residence to live in for the next few months. On top of that, I was the only student from UW that’d be attending IE University so all the research and coordinating was left to me. I made all these alternative plans just in case my visa didn’t come in time, especially with the holidays approaching,  I literally had to plan for the worst case scenarios. Thankfully, after 5.5 weeks of radio silence my visa arrived and I was set to leave for Europe in 2 weeks time! The next 2 weeks of my life were dedicated to saying my temporary goodbyes, eating all the American food I wouldn’t be able to find in Europe and packing, LOTS of packing. 

The day had arrived, January 4th, 2023, I was officially leaving for Europe for the next 6 months of my life. But low and behold, the worst has yet to come. I arrived at the Seattle-Tacoma Airport to find one of my family members had left one of my bags on the front porch. No big deal, right? NO, it was a very big deal!! It was the one bag that had my passport in it, and the luggage check-in counter was going to close in an hour. When I said I thought I was no longer going to study abroad, I really thought so. It felt like the world was  telling me my European dreams were not meant to be, and the hysterical tears streamed down my face as everyone in the airport stared at me with concern. But it’s okay, guess what I made it! As awful and stressful as the pre-study abroad process was, there is no regret and I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat. Why? Because I’ve met some of the most amazing people in my life, friends that are from all over the world, living through the culture shocks, adapting to a whole new way of living, learning and practicing a different language, getting to travel to different countries on the weekends, learning about business with an an international perspective, the list goes on and on. 

Life in Madrid is so lively and sociable, very community oriented. It’s such a beautiful city to enjoy with others and by yourself. On a side note, I’ve never felt so safe walking home alone in the middle of the night. It’s such a walkable city and the public transportation system here is amazing. I take the metro every single day to get to university and it has become a part of my daily routine that I actually enjoy. I no longer have to sit in terrible Seattle traffic. I honestly can’t recommend Madrid enough from the language to the history to the museums to the Spanish food, Madrid will hold such a special place in my heart. The people that you meet abroad are some of the most loving and caring people you’ll ever meet, and the pain of having to say goodbye and not hasta mañana is unbearably painful. But all good things must come to an end right? I don’t think so because for now, to Madrid and all of my bestest of friends I made here it’s not goodbye but hasta luego<3

If you haven’t thought about studying abroad, think about it. If you’re thinking about studying abroad, DO IT!

Until next time,