Hola. España.

Excited, nervous, anxious, but also born ready. There were many, many mixed feelings as the days were winding down until January 10, the date I departed from Chicago to Madrid, with a pit stop in London. As I was packing, and doing a lot of unpacking, it was hard for me to completely grasp that I would be living along the Mediterranean coast for the next six months. I definitely was going to miss my family but also was looking forward to shaping new friendships and a family abroad, amongst my home-stay and other USAC students. With that being said, there is no doubt that “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” and I was looking forward virtually keeping up with people at home. That presents one of the biggest challenges while trying to soak up this awesome experience with you…sharing it! But no worries, I’ll do my best to get to the point, be engaging and fun and hopefully you can try to vicariously live through my time in Alicante.

After meeting up with some other USAC students on the group flight, we finally arrived to Hotel Regina in Madrid where a five-day excursion was upon us. There were several places we visited first in the capital of Spain, all of which were very impressive. We visited the Prado Museum, which features the works of El Greco, Diego Velazquez and Goya, and the Reina Sofia Museum to view Picasso’s Guernica, a piece made after bombings during the Spanish Civil War. We also walked through the Plaza Mayor and to the Royal Palace of Madrid, where every room was jaw dropping. Another fun part in Madrid that was not part of the guided tours was the tapas restaurants and discotecas. It was very fun to get an early taste of what Spanish nightlife is all about!

Another place we visited was the city of Segovia, a place known for being home to the famous Roman aqueduct and the wonderful Alcazar of Segovia. Walking through the city was incredible and there were many buildings designed with brilliant architecture. My view from lunch was breathtaking as well, overlooking the whole city with the Guadarrama Mountains in the background. The last city in Spain we visited during our stay near Madrid was Toledo. Here, we toured a synagogue that still has working church services, which features amazing fresocs on all ceilings and more gold in one place that you will ever see! I was also able to get a shout out and quick feel good from the states on this tour. Since Toledo, Spain is sister cities with Toledo, Ohio, we were pointed to Calle de Toledo de Ohio, which easily made me smile. All in all, the tours in Madrid were tremendous and you can see some more photos at the links below! Hasta pronto. -Z(S)ak o Gustavo

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