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Being Back in Madrid


I studied abroad in Madrid in 2009 and had the absolute time of my life.

I stayed with a host family that was so warm, hospitable and giving, enjoyed finally taking non-business related courses, and made friends that I hope to keep for a lifetime.

I was simply on cloud 9.

On my own in a foreign city, practicing the language, learning about the culture, sampling the delicious food, enjoying the vibrant nightlife and getting used to the daily siesta naps.

And I was eating. A lot. To my defense my senora Palmoa (my host mother) was practically making gourmet traditional Spanish meals for lunch and was insisting I have seconds and thirds of each dish. You know how grandmother’s are always trying to fatten you up? Well Paloma certainly succeeded.

And then it didn’t help that with my friends we were always on the hunt for Spanish food, and actually referred to eating as “mowing”

By the end of those 4 months in Spain you could tell I had been eating a few too many plates of paella (among other things).

back in 2009

In Madrid I was incredibly happy and my nicely rounded out face gives it all away.

By the time I got home it was clear I needed to start exercising and stop eating.

On this trip Dave and I had not planned to go back to Spain since we had both been there before (Dave came to Madrid to visit while I was there in 2009). But then Dave’s mom wanted to visit his sister (who lives in Madrid) during her spring teaching holidays so it seemed like a great opportunity for a family reunion.

I was a bit anxious. Not because I was afraid of ballooning up again like I did back in 2009, but because I wasn’t sure if I ever wanted to go back to Madrid.

I had such an incredible time there in 2009 that I almost didn’t want to spoil it with a trip back. I wanted to keep Madrid in this happy memory bubble I had formed in my head.

What if it wasn’t as good this time around? What if I was disappointed by the city, or didn’t like it as much without the study abroad experience?

I didn’t want to risk that I had built up the city in the head over the past 5 years to then be disappointed by it. I just wanted to keep it safely preserved and stocked away in my memories the way it was to me back in 2009.

Frankly I didn’t really have a choice. We’re weren’t going to switch around all the family reunion plans over my silly hesitations.

And so after a 30 hour flight from Penang Malaysia (with stops in Kuala Lumpur, Abu Dhabi and Rome) we landed in the city of my happy college memories.

To my pleasant surprise the city hadn’t changed. It was still the Madrid I knew and loved.

An incredibly vibrant city with historical buildings, parks, squares, bars, cafes, you name it. The atmosphere felt the same. It was just like I remembered it.

Though thankfully I had changed a little bit.

before and after madrid

as had Dave.

me and dave before and after 2

My love for Madrid continues to grow. It’s such an exciting yet laid back and relaxed city. I love the Spanish culture.

I love that with every drink out at a bar/cafe you also get a small plate of tapas. Why hasn’t the US implemented this yet?

I love the tapas style eating where you can order a few small sized plates, share with everyone and have many different types of food over the course of one meal. Variety is best right?

Spanish Tapas

And the prices are so incredibly moderate (even cheap for Western Europe). You can get a beer or wine for a little over a euro. You can get a small plate of food for a couple euros.

I love it. I could go on and on but you get the idea.

After all those years it felt great to be back and to make the experience even better I got to spent a few days with one of my closest friends from the study abroad program who is currently living in Madrid (with her Spanish boyfriend who she met while we were there in 2009)!

Together we enjoyed quite the tapas bar crawl as we used to back in our study abroad days.

I’m glad we ended up going to Spain and I got to go back to Madrid, a city that I would love to spend more time in and form some more memories.

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