Endless Memories – A Summer in Madrid

This week’s post comes from student Marian Sahakyan, who spent unforgettable summer term in Madrid studying with Coast Community College District and ACCENT. Marian recounts for us her fondest (and funniest) memories of Madrid, and encourages her fellow students to embark on adventures of their own.

It was a little past midnight. My friends and I were walking down the street in our quaint little neighborhood for a last minute store pickup, talking about how unreal it felt that the months of planning and anticipation had come and gone and at last. We were here.

It was the beginning of so many different things for me. It was the end of comfort zones and the start of a grand adventure. 35,000 steps, 14 miles, and 24 hours later, Madrid felt like home. So many sights, so much culture followed by endless memories and sleepless nights.

I bonded with locals through a single glance or a silly touristy question, like when I thought the man standing outside of my apartment building was the doorman and tried my hardest to put a sentence or two together in my broken Spanish to express concerns about my apartment key not working. I found out he wasn’t the doorman but the owner of the café next door.

Or that one disappointing moment when I found out iced coffee was not a thing in Europe but ordered a side of ice with my cafe con leche anyway, just to spill it all over the table while trying to mix the two together.

I can’t help but think about the countless times I purposely got lost in the city, exchanging an eight-minute metro ride with a 35-minute walk because I didn’t want to miss a corner. Because I knew my time here was too little and too precious and that all of it would be gone with a blink of an eye, and all I would be left with were memories.

Or the times I would stroll through Parque del Buen Retiro and have conversations with the old man who sold his paintings there. One of his pieces now hangs on my living room wall, right next to it is a framed picture of the two of us. Boy, is it a conversation starter among guests at the house.

I fell in love. With buildings, museums, and sidewalk cafes, and Castellano (Castilian Spanish), and flowers, and life. I fell in love with the bird sounds that crossing signs made when you were allowed to cross the street. Last but not least, I fell in love with the straightforward nature of the people, because no pasa nada (nothing is wrong). This is not just a phrase that people use, it’s the Spanish lifestyle that they live by.  

Madrid is the place where people sit and talk over a glass of wine for hours and hours, because they value spending quality time with loved ones. Madrid is the city where people work to live and not live to work. Madrid is the city where the night doesn’t start until past midnight, and the party doesn’t end until 6 a.m.

I was accepted and loved in Madrid. I was appreciated there. I was welcomed in Madrid, because Madrid was home to my heart, mind, and creativity. Madrid is home.

Had I not studied abroad, I would not be the person I am right now. I can easily say that studying and living abroad is the best thing I have ever done for myself. I am so grateful to have done this.

My advice to everyone who is able to study or travel abroad: just go. Eventually, you’ll earn the money, you’ll get the job. Things can wait, the opportunity will not. 

~ Marian Sahakyan, Coast Community College District, ACCENT Madrid

Did this post inspire you to study abroad in Madrid and discover the magic of the city for yourself? Heed Marian’s advice and study abroad in Madrid next summer! For more information on the summer 2018 program in Madrid with Coast Community College District and ACCENT, please visit: https://accentintl.com/program/cccdl-madsu18/.