Mark Thomas ’10 – With much thanks to Wabash, I have been given the opportunity to do what many juniors at Wabash this year are doing, studying abroad. After my arrival in Madrid, Spain, I met up with my orientation coordinator, who then proceeded to place me in a taxi en route to my hotel. There I slept for about five hours trying to drop my bad case of jet lag. 

First suggestion, don’t watch the extra movies on the plane, simply go to sleep after dinner is served. Later that day, my orientation group and I traveled around Madrid, viewing all the monuments and architecture the city had to offer. Even though I am studying in ancient Toledo, Madrid was a great introduction to the country and culture of Spain. 

One of my main goals while in Spain is to blend in as much with the locals as possible. Obviously, wearing a San Diego, California, shirt the first day there was not the best way of achieving this.

To my delight, the food is fantastic here. Every plate that I have received so far has been filled with various types of ham. Spaniards love there pork, and to honest, so do I. One difference that I have found while abroad is that many of the streets in Spain are not used for cars but rather for people to walk. Almost everyone in Spain walks in order to get from here to there. Also, Harley Davidson motorcycles are huge in Spain. Every taxi driver I spoke with asked me if I drove a Harley back home, which could be a huge misconception that Spaniards have. If so that would be an awesome misconception to have.

On my second day in Madrid, my group and I visited one of Spain’s architectural masterpieces, “El Palacio Real.” The Palacio is definitely the most beautiful and extravagant building I have ever had the pleasure to observe. One special concept was that almost all the ceilings in the rooms of the palace have been decorated by famous painters from various time periods. Also, many rooms in the Palacio had no real practical purpose other than to look beautiful, in which they were successful. One thing I found out about the Palacio that surprised me was that most of the architecture and paintings were done by Italians and not Spaniards. Unfortunately, they did not allow me to take photos inside the Palacio, but I definitely took a few shots outside from the plaza.

So now I am working on two of my major goals while in Spain, passing all my classes taught totally in Spanish and finding tickets to as many soccer games as possible. Hopefully next blog I will be writing you all with a passing grade and pictures from me at a Real Madrid game.