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Experience in Madrid, Spain by Juan

What is it like to live in Madrid? Would you recommend it? What is the city like?

I have lived in Madrid since I was born, I have traveled abroad so many times, I have done several exchange programs and all I can say is that there is no place like Madrid. Starting by the public transportation system which covers the city and a big part of closer cities (for just 20€ a month you can travel in it as many times as you want!)

It is such a beautiful city with a lot of guided tours, interesting museums in the world where you can learn about Spanish history as well as our artistic heritage.

Going out to party or to eat is so much fun and pretty cheap depending on where you go, even for a capital city of a country. It is a super safe city so you should not have any incidents while walking on your own, but it is always better to have someone by your side no matter what city you are in!

With the COVID situation Madrid is dealing well with it. For now masks are not mandatory while you go for a walk or just outside for some reason unlike the rest of Spain (excluding the Canary Islands). I do not know how long this situation will last, but for now you can walk outside without a mask (I still wear it every time as it is safer for everyone and it does not bother me in any sense)

What is the student lifestyle like in Madrid?

I am not the biggest party animal, especially after I got a girlfriend on my first year of uni I did not party a lot but when I did everything was so much fun. All you have to do is find some great friends and go to any club in the center of Madrid or neighborhoods like Moncloa you will have the time of your life!

As I have said before, the city is pretty safe, however if you are gonna walk at night it is always best to do it with someone else you know.

If you are planning to study there are great libraries all over Madrid like the one in the Retiro Park. I would say the level of Spanish universities is pretty high (which means they are hard) but it always depends on what university you are going to! For example my uni (UC3M) is pretty hard for the degree I am studying, but it has one of the best campuses in Madrid in my opinion.

How much does it cost to live in Madrid?

I am not really in the housing market in here but I have asked some people and they said that a room in an average neighborhood rent would be around 350-550€ a month and buying food for a month would be 150€ and the quality of the food you get is really good.

I have lived in the US (Gainesville, Florida) as a student and I have to say that living there was much more expensive than Madrid). I will see how expensive Mannheim is next semester but I am guessing it is gonna be around the same!

Is it difficult to find accommodation in Madrid? Is there any advice you can give?

I do not have much information about this, but I am sure you can find a house through an agency which aren't really expensive or you can find stuff on Facebook groups about housing. If you are coming as an exchange student your Spanish uni will be able to provide you with great information on the topic.

It is best if you know someone in here to go and check the building to see if it is in good condition and everything!

What is the food like? What are your favourite dishes?

Food in here is amazing, maybe I am biased as I was born in here, but there is no food like the one you get in here, regarding the quality of the food itself and the taste and visual appeal. I have lived for around 7 months in the US where I lost 7 kg (which was not good in my case), and after barely a month in here I got most of them back, because the food is sooo good!

My favorite Spanish dishes would be Patatas Bravas, tortilla, croquetas but almost everything you try in Spain is great, the Spanish cuisine is delicious doesn't matter where you go. Each part of Spain has different dishes due to tradition and location of the prime resources, however it is all great in my opinion.

What places would you recommend visiting in Madrid?

There are just too many places I would go but as a list I would go to these places:

* Museo del Prado: For obvious reasons, the biggest and most popular museum in Spain. It gathers paintings from the best national and international artists, and it is free for students as most museums so you can just go and have a beautiful time surrounded by history for free!

* Museo Reina Sofia: This museum is more oriented to modern art in contrast to the classical aspect of the Prado. In here you will be able to see the Guernica one of the most well known paintings of the 20th century.

* Gran Via: I am not a man who enjoys crowds but going trough this street is a must as this is where most tourists go. There are many stores and restaurants you can go and visit which is always great.

* Terraces on top of buildings: Have you ever wondered how does a big city look from the above at night, with the streets thriving with nightlife? Well, in Madrid you can! There are several terraces you can go like the "Azotea del Círculo de Bellas Artes" or the "Gastrobares" of Salvador Bachiller in Gran Via and Sol.

I am missing many places to go but you can probably find more online or you can just ask me (I guess? I don't really know this website atm)

Is it good to eat out in Madrid? Can you tell us your favourite spots?

Is it so much fun to eat out in Madrid! If you go eat out every day you will probably spend too much money, but it is not super expensive, you have to choose wisely where you want to eat!

My favorite spot is a Mexican restaurant where you can get a burrito for 5,90€ which is a pretty good price for its quality and taste. I have tried many different restaurants like this but they are not even close. It is close to an American Chipotle and its name is Tierra Burrito. International students tend to love these restaurants as the environment is great, the ambient music is pretty chill, and they also serve sangria so what more can you ask for?

Is the nightlife good in Madrid? Where is good to go?

As I have said before the nightlife in Madrid is amazing. People start going out at around 1 am and go back home at around 7 am in a good day. Before that you can pregame at a friend's house and get good alcohol for a decent price.
If you do not like to party that much, Madrid still has your back as you can always do alternative plans with friends like hang out in a pub or in terraces enjoying the views, the music, and whatever drink you ordered.

What advice would you give future students heading to Madrid?

Enjoy your time here as much as you can! Seize the moment! Do what you want to do while you can as you never know when you are going to have to leave. I had to leave the US before finishing my exchange and it was one of the worst experiences of my life as I had so many plans that I wanted to do with my friends. In the end you always keep the good things from the past, so try to get as many good memories as you can, as those are the ones you will remember, they will never die.

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