¡Hola from Madrid!

El Camino College student Mike McCollough spent the summer in Madrid immersing himself in Spanish culture. Mike tells us about his memories of his time abroad, and what he took from the experience of living, studying, and exploring in Spain.

For the past four weeks, I along with twenty one El Camino College students and two El Camino College professors have been immersed in Spanish culture and history. Thanks to the ACCENT Madrid team’s well‑choreographed itinerary of outings, we were exposed to the history, experiences, and entertainment of the Spanish world, both present and past. Their tour guides greatly enhanced our visits to the many museums and neighborhoods in Madrid, and also in the cities of Toledo, Granada, Sevilla, and Cordoba, with their rich background knowledge.

During our stay I shared a three-bedroom apartment with two other students. Our apartment not only provided lodging, but also the necessary items for cooking, washing, and coffee making. Our apartment was very close to a grocery store, the Metro, and the Plaza Mayor. The grocery store provided us with the necessary ingredients to practice Spanish cooking in our apartment. ACCENT Madrid provided us with a one-month Metro pass which allowed us unlimited use of Madrid’s excellent public transportation system. The nearby Plaza Mayor provided many opportunities to mingle with the local Madrileños in the long, warm summer evenings. 

Our schedule was not all classes, tours, and trips. The ACCENT Madrid team left us enough free time in our schedule for exploration, one of my favorite activities. During one of my afternoon forays, I stumbled on the abandoned Metro Chamberí Ghost Station, which trains still pass through. Taking advantage of a long weekend, I went to Bilbao and Guernica. In Bilbao I swam at a beach where one of my El Camino College Spanish professors had surfed in his youth. How cool is that?

There were so many moments I captured in photographs. It is so hard to pick a favorite moment from so many memorable ones, Flamenco dancing, learning about El Greco, eating paella, and mingling with Madrileños while watching the FIFA World Cup come to mind. Certainly, one of my favorite memories is stumbling on a rehearsal of Gigantes (large papier-mâché dolls that are used in parades) as they got ready for a fiesta.

During your time abroad, things will happen, there will be problems. The ACCENT Madrid team quickly resolved all of ours in a timely manner, like retrieving my glasses from a taxi and replacing the coffee pot in our apartment. The team was always readily accessible 24/7 through email, text, and phone calls.

I hope you have a chance to visit and enjoy Spain and Madrid, and have as many wonderful experiences as I had.~Mike McCollough, El Camino College

Did this post inspire you to study abroad? Use the ACCENT Program Finder to discover your next great adventure: http://accentintl.com/find-a-program/.