Night Ride to Morocco

Enjoy this Student Feature, written by one of our UCEAP program participants in Madrid. This personal narration of a bus ride to Morocco will give you a glimpse of the moment every study abroad student has when they find fellowship in unfamiliar surroundings.  

I’m currently in route to Tanger, Morocco, enduring a 12-hour bus ride from our starting point in Madrid; it’s a long journey, but it’s easier to bear with my new tribe. This tribe is not only made up of a spectrum of personalities, but an array of experiences. We each left our home campuses, where many of us constructed new homes away from home, and now must rely on each other to reestablish that same comfort overseas.

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How is it possible that we can grow so comfortable with strangers we’ve just met, and yet, when we pass familiar individuals in our daily routines, we never say a word to them? For example, back in the U.S., every Monday after my 8 a.m. class, I go to a little café on my school’s “Science Hill” to purchase an Americano and biscotti. After my purchase, I inevitably run into the same girl, always in a rush and unable to open the door with her hands full of lab gear; I usually reach her just in time to open the door. It’s an established Monday morning routine, and yet, never once have I actually communicated with her, other than to offer a polite smile.

On this bus ride to a foreign land, I’m surrounded by strangers—people I met just two weeks ago—strangers-turned-friends, who depend on my presence as much as I depend on their presence to feel safe. This ride, this hour, this minute, this recognition—it’s the privilege of making friends abroad.

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As I sit here writing under a blue LED light, with the waning lights of Madrid behind me, my new tribe sleeps soundly, resting up for our weekend endeavor. In this moment, I recognize the tendency of human beings to establish a sphere of comfort no matter where they go or who they meet. This night ride to Morocco is the first of many adventures that we as a tribe will experience together before we return to our familiar home campuses, to our old hometowns, or to the new homes we’ll create with the help of those we meet along the way.

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~Paolo Monera, UCEAP 2016 – ACCENT Madrid

Madrid Moments!

In this week’s Madrid Moments! post for our “Live Like A Local” series, staff at our ACCENT Madrid Study Center reveal two of Madrid’s hidden gems, places that only a local would think to suggest.

If a student or faculty were to ask us to recommend a place in Madrid that only a local would know about, we would suggest a visit to Casa de Campo, the most important public park in Madrid. Originally a private hunting ground used by the Spanish royal family, Casa de Campo was declared a Royal Forest by King Fernando VI. This park is comprised of 1,772 hectares of natural space (more than five times the size of Central Park!) and houses various facilities, including an amusement park, a zoo, and an aerial cable car.   Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 12.12.06 PMVisitors can spend a sunny day boating out on the lake, enjoying any of the outdoor restaurants surrounding it, running or biking around the endless paths tangled throughout the park, or just relaxing in the park’s beautiful surroundings.

For the nature-lover, it is an ideal place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city!

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For further information on Casa de Campo, follow this link to the Spanish version of “Zoom” News
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C. pic 5 pick 2Another favorite hidden treasure in Madrid is the Cerralbo Museum, one of the most beautiful museums in the city. A walk through the museum offers visitors the opportunity to see how an aristocratic family lived in the late 19th century and to view the unique collection of more than 500,000 traditional pieces collected by Enrique de Aguilera y Gamboa, XVII Marquis of Cerralbo. Highlights of the museum include paintings, sculptures, drawings, coins, medals, weapons, armor, jewels, ceramics, and furniture created by European artists from the 1500s to the 1900s. And the architecture of the building alone is as impressive as the masterpieces contained within.

Located near Plaza de España and the Temple of Debod, the Cerralbo Museum is one of the greatest lesser known museums in Madrid.

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For those of you hoping to practice your Spanish language skills and to learn more about the museum, check out the following links: Guía del Ocio / una Ventana desde Madrid

~ACCENT Madrid

Madrid Moments!

What other places in Madrid does our ACCENT team love? Tania Gonzalez in our Madrid Study Center shares a few of her favorites in this “Live Like A Local” post.

EL Jardín del Angel – Calle De Las Huertas, 2

Imagine a secret green space surrounded by tall buildings in the center of a bustling city full of tourists. That is “The Angel’s Garden” in Madrid. Though it looks like a garden, it is actually a florist’s shop that was founded in 1889. The vintage atmosphere of this place is charming. In the midst of the small hidden garden decorated with wooden furniture, there is a sweet little greenhouse, and plants everywhere. This is definitely a beautiful place to stop by for a bit of relaxation in the middle of a long day.

The history of this place is also very interesting. According to their website, for 300 or more years, the place was the site of a cemetery where famous writers like Lope de Vega and Cervantes were buried – that would have been right beneath where the greenhouse is today! The cemetery was closed around 1889 and the San Sebastian church near by decided to rent the land to the Martín family. The family opened a flower shop and have since passed the shop down through the generations for over 100 years!

Cuesta de los ciegos

There is a slope of steps that starts at the Calle de Segovia and goes until the Calle de la Morería. It lasts 254 steps and makes a winding path through one of the most historic parts of Madrid. It is Cuesta de los ciegos or, “The Hill of the Blind.” It’s a peculiar but fascinating place that’s prompted legends even as far back as the 13th century, one of which involves St. Francis of Assisi helping to give sight to two blind beggars through a miracle involving olive oil. Sounds mysterious, no? Look it up and practice your Spanish reading skills by clicking on the following links!: Secretos de Madrid and Arte en Madrid.

~Tania Gonzalez, ACCENT Madrid

Madrid Moments!

TMartinezThis week, we’re bringing you the first of many in our Madrid “Live Like A Local” series, “Madrid Moments!” from our ACCENT Madrid Study Center staff member Triana Martinez.

Taberna Según Emma / Restaurante Emma Cocina – Plaza de San Miguel / Plaza del Conde Miranda, 4.

One of my favorite places in town is undoubtedly Taberna Según Emma. It is a small bar located behind the well known Mercado de San Miguel where you can try delicious Spanish cuisine such as salmorejo, which is cold tomato cream with boiled egg and ham, or their tostas, a piece of toasted bread filled with ham or vegetables.A. Pic 1 pick 1

Their dishes are prepared with love and care. The restaurant has a pleasant atmosphere and is located right next to Plaza Mayor and Barrio de los Austrias. No one will regret going to this wonderful place full of charm!

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Museo Sorolla – Paeso del General Martinez Campos, 37.

My favorite hidden treasure in Madrid is the Museo Sorolla. The museum itself is the family house of the Spanish painter Joaquín Sorolla, and has been preserved over time as an exhibit for his paintings and personal belongings. Sorolla painted in several styles, although he is best known for his beautifully lit Mediterranean beach scenes. His paintings tend to be calm and serene, and feature subjects like the sea, children, and women.Museo Sorolla

I love walking through the gardens that surround the building. They were designed by the painter himself and take me to another time: an oasis in the midst of a busy city. Extra perk: Museo Sorolla is conveniently located nearby the ACCENT Madrid Study Center, so if you’re seeking refuge from your studies, respite is not far away!A. Pic 3 pick 2

~Triana Martinez, ACCENT Madrid