By Caroline King
As cliché as it may sound, studying abroad was probably the best experience of my life. Living on my own in an entirely new country helped me develop self-assurance and independence. I absolutely loved getting to explore Madrid, as well as other parts of Spain and Europe.
I chose to study abroad through the Duke in Madrid (DIM) Intermediate program with hopes of completing my Spanish language requirement. The intermediate program has a course class taught by the amazing professor, Patricia Esteban, and our lessons included learning about the history of Spanish food, visiting monuments like the kitchen in the Palacio Real and cooking classes where we all gathered together to cook traditional Spanish meals like patatas bravas and Spanish tortilla. The class was seminar style with only twelve students, and it met every Monday-Thursday at 8:30am. Because of this, I felt very close to the other students in my class. This was one of my favorite classes I have taken through Duke, and that says a lot, considering I could not be further from a morning person. Learning the Spanish language through the lens of food not only improved my Spanish skills greatly, but also helped me to learn and better understand Spanish culture, which I believe is just as important.
Though I loved everything about my study abroad experience, my favorite part of DIM was the trips we attended. During our second week abroad, we traveled to Andalucia, the southern region of Spain, and visited Sevilla and Cádiz. In Sevilla, we visited lots of beautiful monuments like the Real Alcazar of Sevilla where Game of Thrones was filmed. We then took a bus to Cádiz where we spent the whole day playing soccer and relaxing at the beach. Then, about one month into the program, we took another week long trip to Galicia, which is the northwest region of Spain. We visited El Camino de Santiago — the first spot of “the camino” — in Santiago de Compostela, as well as going to the beach and seeing beautiful cliffs by the ocean in Santo André de Teixido. We stayed in a beautiful ecotourism hostel in the woods where we made a traditional Spanish drink and learned flamenco dance. We also took many Friday day trips to nearby cities in Spain like Toledo and Segovia. Exploring Spain with DIM was an incredible experience because I really got to know the other people in my program and had the chance to visit amazing parts of Spain that I would have never known about. I’ll cherish these experiences for the rest of my life.
I loved everything about Duke in Madrid and I could not recommend the program more. Studying abroad is an exceptional experience that I am so grateful to have been able to experience, and while I was at first very nervous to embark on this adventure, I couldn’t be happier that I pushed myself to take this risk because it was truly the best four months of my life.
Caroline is a junior at Duke studying Psychology with an Education minor and this is her second year as a @Dukestudents YouTube intern. She is a huge Duke basketball fan, and some of her other involvements at Duke include SHAPE, Project Arts, Hoof N’ Horn, and Me Too Monologues.