Reason number one? This sick view.
I’ll admit that first reason is a cop-out. So that’s why I am giving you six reasons instead of just five.
Before you set foot in Spain, you might be like me and plan lots of trips around Europe. After all, Spain serves as a perfect home base with lots of cheap flights to neighboring countries. But, make sure to explore all that Spain has to offer as well!
Reason #2: It’s cheap!
A 60€ round-trip ticket to Geneva is tempting, but then you have to worry about accommodations, possible currency exchanges and other expenses. There are lots of interesting day trips you can go on from Madrid like Salamanca, Segovia and Toledo. The cities have rich histories and you can easily spend less than 40€ for a day trip out of Madrid. So wander around the Plaza Mayor in Salamanca, take panoramic photos of the Roman aqueducts in Segovia and eat marzipan in Toledo…also take that 60€ round-trip flight to Geneva.
Reason #3: Practice your Spanish
Once you arrive in Spain, you will realize it can, ironically, be difficult to meaningfully speak Spanish with locals. Many madrileños will recognize you have an accent and begin to speak in English with you. As you leave Madrid, fewer people speak English, which gives you the opportunity to practice your español, which is why you’re here. Right? Right. When I visited Toledo, I spoke with a shopkeeper and she explained the designs on the necklaces and earrings, which all related to the Christian, Jewish and Muslim influences on the city. It was a great conversation, which probably would not happen in Madrid.
Reason #4: Lots of yummy food
When I first arrived in Madrid, I didn’t like the food. Jamón, cheese and bread are standards in Madrid and soon after you arrive you’ll recognize the slightly musty, sweet scent of jamón anywhere. In truth, I still struggle to find delicious, satisfying food in Madrid, which can be an issue in many big cities. However, once you leave Madrid, the food becomes more homemade and you can sample the “platos típicos” of a city. For example, in Segovia it’s cochinillo, which is roast suckling pig served snout and all. In Toledo, make sure to try some sweets like marzapán and almendras garrapiñadas.
Reason #5: History is everywhere
The Romans conquered Toledo in 193 BCE. What does 2,000 years even mean? Please someone tell me, because I cannot begin to fathom that length of time. In Spain, it’s not uncommon for cities to boast 600-year-old cathedrals or walls built from the time of the Roman Empire. This is true for many parts of Europe, but classes like Tres Culturas run by the Tufts-Skidmore program will help you gain special perspectives on Spanish history.
Reason #6: You’re studying abroad in Spain…
…not the entire European continent. It’d be a bummer if you left Madrid, without getting to know the surrounding cities, especially since they have so much to offer. Explore Europe, but make sure you take advantage of your weekends and take lots of day trips.
So, ready to explore Spain now?