Tag Archive for: Madrid

Ugne Vaiciulyte – Madrid Internship

Ugne in Retiro Park

Ugne in Retiro Park

Interned in accounting at a small firm in fall 2015.

I studied abroad in Madrid during my Senior Fall. Although pretty it was pretty unconventional to go fall semester of my senior year, my thought process was “When will I ever get to live somewhere for 4 months and not have to give up any responsibilities?”

Internship: I had an internship with an accountant that worked with small to mid-size companies. My internship was pretty limited: filing, alphabetizing, data entry and similar tasks. There was not much substance, and I can’t say that if I were to do this program again that I would choose to the internship program. I understand for a finance concentrator it can be pretty hard to find an adequate financial internship, especially for a foreign student for only 3 months. In Spain, it is very unusual to have such a short-term internship.

I Learned: While in Spain, I learned not to take myself too seriously in terms of my professional career (aka enjoy myself a little bit more). Over there, they place a focus on enjoying their meals, their time with their family and friends. They don’t rush through those moments and really make sure to be present. Also, in Spain, they don’t include their jobs as part of their identity. This was a huge revelation for me, as here, when we meet a new person, the small talk usually revolves around “What do you do?” “Where did you go to school?” and “What did you major in?”. In Spain, it is considered rude to ask people about their careers or studies, and a bigger emphasis is put on a persons identity being composed of their likes/dislikes, their hobbies, and their personalities. I think we sometimes forget, and it is important, to differentiate who we are as people versus who we are as professionals.

What Surprised Me: What surprised me most about my time off-campus was how interesting the classes were. I love numbers and math and finance, and the classes I was taking were literature, anthropology and cultural ones. However, I found myself really enjoying the material we covered and the essays we had to write. I thought the academic aspect would be such a drag for me, but it really wasn’t.

Hardest Part: So my hardest part of study abroad is a little different than for most people. I took a weekend trip to Paris the weekend of the attacks and actually ended up being right in the middle of all the action about 10 minutes after they happened. I was very lucky, but it was still a pretty stressful experience which made my time thereafter in Spain a little harder. I found myself really missing my family and friends. I stopped traveling. I stopped going out with my classmates, etc. Which just leads me to speak about the BEST part of this experience: my host family. I became so close with my host family, sharing with them not only my daily experiences but really opening up to them about my personal life back in the States, introducing them to my own family and friends via Skype, planning future visits, etc. Having the family there for me as a support system every day was something I was not expecting, but I am so happy with the family that I got. We still keep in touch to this day in our group chat, still sharing our little every day routine moments. This program has given me people that I became so close with that I can truly call them my second family.

Tips: Bring a comfortable cross body bag. You will need to stuff a cardigan, an umbrella, camera, water bottle, etc. almost every day and walk everywhere, so being comfortable is very important. Bring LAYERS for the crazy weather. Take care of your electronics EVERYWHERE as it seems Madrid just breeds pickpockets. Try all the food.

Jill Antoszyk, Madrid

JillvalenciaThis summer I studied abroad in Madrid, Spain. I did a homestay with a single mother and her two children Alicia (13), and Pablo (11). Coming home every day to a welcoming Spanish family and spending time with my new “siblings” allowed me to be fully immersed into the Spanish culture and language.

Upon arrival in Madrid, after a brief orientation, everyone was sent off by cab to find his or her host families. We had to decipher Spanish addresses and get in touch with our host families, our first task in a foreign country alone. After a long flight my phone had died, and when I reached my apartment no one was home. The cab sped off and I was stranded on the curb with a suitcase as large as me. Right away I had no choice but to ask anyone who passed me on the street in Spanish for help and if I could borrow their phones to reach my host family. Even though I was perpetually lost for the beginning of the trip, I was pushed out of my comfort zone and into the Spanish culture. It was inevitable that I would get lost, and each time I did I became more connected to the city. I quickly made new friends and we began exploring the city, and eventually other cities in Spain.

Everywhere we walked there was a new palace, a cathedral, and a piece of history. Towards the end of the trip I felt at home in Madrid and engaged in the culture. I felt more confident, and when I was approached by a lost Spaniard and asked directions in Spanish,  I was the one, for a change, with the answers and the ability to communicate them.

The experiences I had and classes I took abroad were truly unique and allowed me to discover parts of myself I did not know existed. By being knocked completely out of my comfort zone I was able to absorb a different language and culture. I highly recommend studying abroad, engaging oneself fully, and sharing these experiences with new friends.

Travis Pozzetta, Madrid Internship

Travis Spain 4Internship: I studied abroad in Madrid at La Universidad Autónoma de Madrid during Spring 2014. I interned with Management Solutions, an international business consulting firm. I worked in the central Management Solutions office with I+D, the Research and Development department. The primary responsibilities of I+D are to research and report on the macroeconomic, financial, and regulatory conditions of regions in which its clients operate. I was responsible for major contributions to several ongoing projects. I spent most of my internship working from a company laptop, compiling information and creating Spanish-language reports and PowerPoint presentations. My research mostly supported the work of the rest of team, and I was assigned to several different topics, from summarizing and translating the Model Risk Management regulations included in IFRS 9, to reporting on the broad financial panoramas of the US and UK. Additionally, I helped with the final versions of many of the English reports produced by I+D, as I was the only native speaker in the department.

I learned: One thing that I learned was the importance of communication and collaboration in an office environment, something that was difficult for me at first due to the language barrier. Fortunately, the team was very supportive and made accommodations for me at first, knowing that I was coming to Madrid as a person who had limited experience with working in a second language. Eventually, as I improved, they raised their expectations and gave me projects that were more complex and required a greater Spanish speaking aptitude.

Another thing I learned a lot about was perspective. Since I’ve only ever taken classes in the US, I had a very “US-centric” education up until my semester abroad. Between the business classes and my conversations with Spanish students, I learned a lot about Spanish culture and worldviews and how different one’s perception can be, based upon personal experience and values. I feel that this trip helped me learn to relate more with values and perspectives that are very distinct from my own.

I was surprised by: The thing that surprised me the most was how easy it was to adjust to an environment that was completely foreign to me. Before the program started I was fairly nervous, especially because I wasn’t sure that my Spanish would be good enough. Even so, within the first week of our arrival I felt much more comfortable, especially knowing that the BU Madrid staff was there to help with anything I needed. Before I knew it, I was going through my days with no problems at all. It truly felt like I was a part of the community rather than a foreigner.

The hardest part: The hardest part of my experience was getting used to the Spanish upper education system. I knew that it would be a challenge taking classes at the Autónoma with native speakers, but the main issue for me was the lack of structure throughout the semester. Classes were twice a week and totally lecture-based, as the program details explained, but this was difficult for me because I’m accustomed to a different learning style. The only other grades besides exams were projects and attendance. Other people will certainly excel in this system, but the combination of exclusively lecture-based classes and the Spanish-language environment was a challenge. Regardless, the teachers were accommodating for international students and I was very happy with my progress by the end of the semester.

The best part: A very difficult question, but the best part for me was the ability to travel. I was fortunate enough to take a few weekend trips in Spain and around Europe, and it was life changing. The countries are close enough, but with the cultural differences it almost felt like I was visiting different worlds. I think travelling gave me a greater appreciation for Madrid, and I loved feeling like I was coming home at the end of the trips.

My tips: I advise you to make the most of this incredible location! Madrid is an absolutely amazing city, and there are so many opportunities throughout the semester to explore it further. Be sure to visit the many beautiful museums, try the local cuisine, and make Spanish friends! You will be very busy during the semester, so plan ahead and make the most of your limited time. Spain is a large and diverse country, so you should be sure to see other cities as well.

Caroline Fernandes, Madrid

Caroline_Madrid_Circulo de Bellas ArtesI studied in Madrid, Spain for six weeks in the summer of 2014. I took two classes: a Spanish art history class and contemporary Spanish culture class. The art class was one of my favorite classes I have ever taken so far in my college career. We learned about Spanish art throughout history and visited museums to see certain pieces in person. The contemporary Spanish culture class was all about the history of Spain since Franco’s dictatorship. I learned so much about Spain’s history, which allowed me to see how Spain has been shaped over the years.

I learned: Always put yourself out there and try new experiences because those are the moments you remember. I was nervous to study abroad because I had never been away from my family for that long. I always dreamed of studying in Spain and never thought I would do it, but I challenged myself and jumped on that plane to a new place and it was one of my greatest experiences.

Talk to strangers. Contrary to what you learned as a child, talking to strangers is the best thing to do when you are abroad. Locals tell you the best places to visit that may not be in a travel book. There are also so many people travelling around the world with whom you will cross paths and you can’t miss the opportunity to strike up a conversation and hear about their adventures.

I was surprised by: I was surprised by the amount of independence I had while abroad. I could explore the city as I pleased. It was like living on my own in this new city! I was able to make a trip to Barcelona that I was hoping for. Although there are group trips and activities, it is mostly independent exploration so make the most of it!

The hardest part: The hardest part of my experience was getting used to the cultural time differences. In Spain, lunch is in the late afternoon and dinner is really late. This is very different from the culture we have here in the U.S. Even though it was a struggle at first, I got used to it and embraced my new lifestyle.

Also, the classes are not taught the same way as at home, especially with a native Spanish teacher. There are different teaching styles and different expectations. I had to learn and adapt to the new styles, which required a little more effort. I enjoyed that the professors gave breaks during class!

The best part: The best part of my study abroad trip to Spain was my host family! I learned so much from them, and talking with them every night was very helpful in improving my Spanish. We played guitar, watched movies together, and bonded like a real family. I am going to miss my Spanish parents the most out of everything.

My tips: 

  • If you are a peanut butter lover, bring some with you. Peanut butter is hard to find in all grocery stores, and costs a lot.
  • Don’t bring unnecessary items because you will want the space in your luggage for the trip home.
  • Practice your vosotros form!
  • Talk to locals and other people traveling.
  • Get to know your host family.
  • Explore the city, because some of the best places discovered are the ones you stumble upon while walking around.
  • Take advantage of the cultural reimbursements!
  • If you have any questions about studying in Madrid, feel free to contact me at cof94@bu.edu.

Luisa Colon, Madrid Management Internship

At a Flamenco Show in GranadaInterned at The Music Word of Mouth Company.

This past spring (Spring 2015) I studied abroad in Madrid, Spain, through the Madrid Management Internship Program. I am a native Spanish speaker, and I have always dreamed of studying abroad in Spain, where I knew I could assimilate very easily and strengthen my Spanish-speaking skills. I had done extensive research on Madrid (I bookmarked places to see/things to do months before arriving), so I had an idea of what my time there would be like. After 4.5 months of living, working, and studying in Madrid, my experience exceeded all of my expectations, and I truly felt like I belonged there. I became a Madrileña. Madrid is a beautiful city filled with vibrant people, a deep history, astounding architecture, a great transportation system, awesome nightlife… it has everything! Plus, it’s not that expensive, as opposed to other study abroad locations.

Internship: I was the marketing intern for a small music company called The Music Word of Mouth (MUWOM), which is located in the trendy neighborhood of Chueca. MUWOM works to unite artists and brands through content generation and the use of the Internet and social media. I helped manage the social media accounts of MUWOM’s music artists. I conducted research and prepared reports on MUWOM’s competitors to improve the company’s strategy in generating content and experiences through music. I also contributed to the company’s blog by reporting on current news within the media, music and marketing fields. Overall, I had a pleasant time at my internship, and I was introduced to a couple of well-known and underground Spanish musicians.

I Learned: I gained a better understanding of the financial crisis and how it has affected Europe, and in particular, Spain. From my International Business class, I learned how to view situations from different angles and not just from an American viewpoint. My time abroad solidified my plans to concentrate in International Management and someday work for an international company.

I was Surprised: I was really surprised by how little clothing I actually needed throughout the months. I packed two suitcases, and I thought I had packed too little. However, I learned that I didn’t need all of it. I even donated some of my own clothing before returning to the US, which gave me more space for souvenirs and things I purchased along the way.

I was also surprised by the metro and bus systems in Madrid. They’re awesome: fast, convenient, clean, and reliable – nothing like the MTA or the MBTA.

The Hardest Part: The hardest part of my experience was dealing with a family loss a couple of weeks into the start of the program. I decided not to travel back home because I knew it would be harder to go, then leave my family and return to Madrid, than to just not go home. My family was very understanding, and they, alongside my host family and friends, supported me and helped me through that difficult time. Although I lost someone very special to me, I knew that he would want me to fully enjoy my time in Madrid.

The Best Part: The absolute best part was living with my host family. I lived with a married couple and their sweet and funny twin 15-year old boys. They welcomed me into their home with the biggest hugs and kisses (and a huge plate of paella). I had my own room and bathroom, and I always felt comfortable with them. Plus, my host mom is one of the best cooks ever – she was considerate of the things I did and didn’t like, and always had something new for me to taste.

My tips: 

  • Arrive with an open mind, and embrace the cultural differences.
  • Befriend locals: madrileños are awesome, and they know how to have fun!
  • Plan your travels ahead of time so you can save money.
  • Take advantage of the cultural reimbursements and explore Spain.
  • Enjoy all the tapas, beer and wine your heart desires, ¿vale?

I loved, loved, loved my time in Madrid, and I hope to return very soon. As they say, “de Madrid al cielo, y desde el cielo, un agujerito para verlo.”

Thank you for reading! Contact me at luisamc@bu.edu if have any questions or concerns about studying abroad in Madrid.

Jamie Zakalik, Madrid

Group visit to Barcelona with Tim Barramen, Grant Bacchuber, Sarah Noyes, Jamie Zakalik, Bea Lorenzo, Ryan SheaThis past Spring (Spring 2014) I studied abroad in Madrid, Spain.  Because of my Spanish literacy (or lack thereof), I was in the Level I Madrid program.  While I did not have an internship, I did live in a Spanish household and all of my classes were in Spanish, or as they say, Español.  Upon my arrival, I quickly realized that I had a large task ahead of me if I was going to not only survive my classes, but function in society at all.  The first afternoon, a group of girls and I walked around the corner for lunch while we were still all staying at the Hotel Regina for orientation.  After our meal I proudly waved down the waiter and asked for “el cheque.”  My other friends gasped and pulled my hand down.  The puzzled waiter walked over as my friends quickly apologized and asked for “la cuenta.”  After that, I sat down with my Spanish books and class notes and studied my culo off.

Living in a society that speaks a different language than my native language and has a culture different than what I am used to was the hardest, best, most rewarding, and most frustrating part of my semester.

The culture shock took a little getting used to.  Three days into the semester we were thrown into Spanish speaking households.  My immediate interaction with my host mother was first, her embracing me into her arms like we were old friends who hadn’t seen each other in quite some time, and then second, dragging me around the house giving me all the house rules and information… en español.  Now  I don’t want to say I didn’t understand any of it, but I didn’t understand any of it.  Luckily, I was living with another Boston University student who was basically fluent and who then afterwards filled me in on all the important parts I missed.  The second culture shock was the buzz around meals.  Not only do Spaniards not eat dinner until around 10:00 at night but they also put a lot of importance on spending meals together and not leaving ANY food on your plate. Needless to say, I spent this semester eating a lot more than at school, a lot better than at school (my host mom brought in another woman to do our cooking and it was absolutely delicious), and a lot later than at school (except maybe Saturday night T Anthony’s).

Not being able to always understand what others were saying or project exactly what I wanted to say was extremely frustrating.  It also led to some of my best stories.  One night, my roommate abroad and I were attending a Spanish person’s party.  One of the boys got up to open the door to let some air into the apartment. To start conversation, I asked the boy “estas caliente?”  He began to laugh at me and I immediately started wondering what was on my face or in my teeth.  He then explained to me that what I wanted to ask was “tienes calor?”, and that I had accidentally asked him if he was turned on.  Little discrepancies like this (that make a huge difference) are some of the many things that I learned in Spain that I would not have learned otherwise from studying Spanish from a textbook or speaking it twice a week in a Spanish class and then walking out the door to my English speaking world.

If I had any tips for those of you planning to study in Madrid, I would say go for it and really immerse yourself in the Spanish culture and language.  My semester abroad was my favorite semester so far; I met over fifty new people, I learned a language other than English (contrary to my stories I can actually converse in Spanish now pretty fluently), and I learned about a culture that I didn’t even know had so much to teach me.  Most other students outside of the United States learn multiple languages and, until you do, you don’t realize that it is not only extremely rewarding but also truly opens up your world.

If you have any questions about studying abroad in Madrid or in general, feel free to send me an email at jzakalik@bu.edu.

Thanks for reading!

Alexa Tom, Madrid Internship

Interned in Hospitality and Event Planning at Cat’s Hostel, Spring 2014Alexa Madrid Hostel

Internship: Twice a week I interned at Cat’s Hostel in the city center of Madrid. Some of the requirements I had to do were check guests in and out and manage room reservations, and also plan weekend events and parties for guests. For Valentine’s Day, we made invitations for every guest inviting them to a sangria fountain party in our lobby that included typical Spanish tapas. I loved my internship because hostels are very laid back. Also, my coworkers came from Spain, Italy, Argentina, and France, so I learned a lot about their backgrounds and got to spend time interacting with guests as well. 

I Learned: Two things I learned from this experience were one, really emphasizing the fact that knowing more than one language is a huge advantage in any situation whether it was traveling outside of Spain or in my case, during my internship where I worked in a hostel and people from all around the world were coming to stay. The second thing I learned was—while the norm for most people my age in the United States is to go to a university, maybe go to grad school, and then eventually work—there are also tons of young people meandering around the world before or after their studies. These people have learned so much about other cultures and lifestyles and really being open to adventure, which I’m definitely envious of since sometimes we can be so focused on ourselves and working nonstop, not taking the time to step out of our bubbles.

What Surprised Me: What surprised me the most about my time abroad was how the crisis in Spain has really affected the majority of Spaniards. Students continue to study until their late twenties if they want to be successful in the future, and many students usually study close by to home and still live with their parents to save money, but in turn this makes the family connections in Spain much stronger than in the US.

Hardest Part: The hardest part of my experience was managing time between traveling and exploring and studying. There are so many festivities, events on the weekdays, places to visit in Madrid as well as cheap weekend getaways to nearby countries, but it’s important to know that classes come first. All my classes covered my CAS requirements and were all taught in Spanish, so the variety of themes in my classes were very interesting, and I could use what I learned in class to understand the Spanish culture even more. 

Best Part: The best part of my experience was getting to know native people! I LOVED my host family, a mom and her daughter my age, and still keep in contact with them. Not only were they the sweetest, most caring people ever, but also I was forced to practice Spanish every single day. It’s definitely improved. I became friends with other native people in studying in Madrid, and I learned the most from them by just talking and comparing the different cultures, and experiencing their everyday lifestyle. Spanish people are so loving and welcoming, greeting someone with a kiss on both cheeks was much warmer than a handshake. 

My Tips: The main tip I have for those studying abroad is to try everything! From food (even when you have no idea what it is when you order it), not being afraid to talk to Spanish people, and really branching out to not only discovering the main attractions, but also wandering and getting lost in the city. There’ll be times when you miss home and American lifestyle, but you have to be open to how life is in Spain and adjust to their customs to make the most of your experience.  

Bethany Emery, Spanish Studies Program

MadridStudied in Madrid, Spain for the Fall semester of 2013.

I Learned: First, I learned the importance of understanding another culture. When arriving in Madrid, despite having read several books about the people of Madrid, I knew very little about their true way of life and customs. This made even the simplest interaction complicated. For example, it is very common for people of Spain to stare at each other while on public transportation. It is not considered rude but is, instead, the norm. Therefore, while I thought something was wrong with me, they were just going about their everyday lives.  Actions can be interpreted many ways, and, as a result, it is important to understand the culture before walking into a new environment.

In addition, my host family taught me things that you can’t learn in a classroom. They allowed me truly to understand the people of Spain and how they interact with each other on a day-to-day basis. This is something a textbook cannot teach you. I discovered that sometimes the best way to learn about how people coexist is to put yourself in the middle of them and just go with the flow. This forces you to observe others around you on a closer level and, therefore, augments your learning experience.

Comparing/Contrasting Business in U.S. versus Spain: While I did not intern while abroad, I noticed that the businesses I visited were much more relaxed than in the U.S. This was especially true with opening/closing times and appointments. The businesses are adapted to fit the Spanish lifestyle which involves most non-restaurants to be closed mid-day, but to remain open much later all night than expected in the U.S.

Hardest Part: The hardest part of my experience was adjusting to the language barrier.  It was difficult to accept that I was not always going to be able to communicate exactly what I wanted to say. However, throughout my time, this improved as I learned different, more effective ways to communicate when verbal speech was not an option.

Best Part: The arts and their appreciation for the arts. The people of Madrid fill a huge auditorium on a week day in order to hear the National Orchestra of Spain play a classical concert.  I’ve seen good metro performers make 10 euro in a single song.  They appreciate good art in a way that very few do in the US. As a musician, being among this art-loving culture was the best part of my experience.

Evelyn Gross, Madrid Internship Program–Business & Econ Track

Plaza Mayor in Madrid

Editorial Intern at Glamour Magazine, Spring 2012

Internship: I interned at Glamour Magazine as an editorial intern reporting to the Editor in Chief of the Fashion Section of the magazine. I translated interviews with designers from English into Spanish, managed the credits for photo spreads, and got to help choose shoes for a photo shoot about a trend in plastic shoes.

I Learned: I learned how to assimilate into a new culture and learn the cultures and values. I also learned how to travel: packing light, figuring out buses and trains in foreign countries, and seeing the highlights of a city in a short time.

Comparing/Contrasting to Other Work Experiences: The work environment in my internship abroad was far less structured than any internship I have had in the US. I had to ask constantly for responsibility as opposed to being assigned tasks to work on for the day.

Hardest Part: The hardest part for me was learning a foreign language. I knew Spanish from taking various classes at BU but had never been forced to communicate in it. It took a lot of getting used to to converse in Spanish at all of my meals eaten with my host family, in the work environment at my internship, and socially when I went out. Although it was the hardest part of my experience, it was also the most rewarding. By the end of my study abroad experience, I was shocked by how easily I could communicate in Spanish! I felt very proud of myself.

Best Part: The best part of my experience was living with a host family. I was nervous about living with a host family, but it proved to be a wonderful way to learn about the Spanish culture first-hand. I vastly improved my Spanish because I ate lunch and dinner with my family every day. I also was made to feel like a part of their family and got to go my host brother’s school play, do makeovers at my host sister’s sleepover party, and attend my host mom’s work party with many Spanish diplomats. My experience felt so authentic because I was part of the Menchón family.

Alec Fong, Madrid Management Internship Program

Alec’s Homestay location

Intern in Accounting and Hospitality in the Restaurant and Hotel Industries, Spring 2012

Internships: I had a pretty interesting experience with the internships. At first, I was placed in the accounting department of a company that owned a group of restaurants. A lot of the work was basic, but that’s because the company wanted to ensure that I had a good work ethic and could prove myself before giving me other responsibilities. I had a previous internship in accounting back here in the United States, so I asked to be put in another accounting internship.

My second internship was helping out the manager of a restaurant and learning about running a restaurant. That included verifying bills, helping customers, and the like. Due to complications with management there, I was moved to a hostel where I was a receptionist. That was by far my favorite job as I got to interact with many different travelers from different parts of the world. I even checked in a guest in on my own and explained all the rules of the hostel. Maybe the only down side to this internship was that I spoke a lot of English since it is a very international language. Although I had these experiences, the internship placement team over in Madrid will always work with students to make sure they’re content with what they’re doing.

I Learned: In the Madrid program, we were all placed into home stays, unlike other programs where students were all bunched together in a dorm. For this reason, I learned how to be extremely independent and not afraid to ask questions to get where I needed to be or to find out how to do something I needed to do. This ranged from cultural interactions to asking which train to take to get home. I also learned how to communicate effectively in another language (expressions, study terms, slang, etc)! There is no other substitute to being surrounded by those who speak the native language.

Comparing/Contrasting to Other Work Experiences: Spain was very different. A lot of the technology was older than that in the United States. People there were generally more relaxed about their jobs and followed tradition. Smaller shops opened around 9/10am, closed for a long lunch from about 2pm-4/5pm, and re-opened until closing time at around 7pm or earlier. Banks closed around 2pm every day and were rarely open on the weekends.

Hardest Part: Studying at a university level in Spanish was probably on the top of my list. Learning finance terms in Spanish wasn’t easy, but some parts were easier since numbers are the same in every language. Professors were generally more willing to help international students, but it was still difficult since some class grades were based off of one cumulative final exam. (I believe this system is getting changed next year.) Study hard!

Best Part: Adjusting to the Spanish culture and living in Spain for five whole months was the absolute best part of my experience. I learned to study in another language, explore the city like a local and know the transportation system like the back of my hand. Being in Europe for that long also meant that I got exposure to a variety of different cultures as well as the opportunity to be able to travel to neighboring countries.