Last weekend fellow IIP Dubliner Phoebe and I went to visit our friend who just finished up her program in Madrid. It was the first time I had traveled outside of Ireland, and I’m really glad I got to have this experience. While it was strange to immerse myself in a completely new culture just when I was getting used to Dublin, it also helped me appreciate my time here more. It was strange to be in a place where I couldn’t speak the language, and where I couldn’t understand anything that was going on around me. My whole world was filtered through Izzy, who translated back and forth at restaurants and shops, since my knowledge of Spanish is limited to a few classes back in middle school. I never realized how much I take for granted here in Ireland and even back in the US, from being able to read street signs to understanding waiters to knowing what the person who walked passed me on the sidewalk just said. It’s also amazing to me that an entirely new experience and environment is just a short 2 hour flight away, and that I could lose myself in the winding streets of Madrid for a weekend and be able to fly back home in time for work on Monday. Spain was also a new experience for me in that I stayed in a hostel for the first time. While I’m used to having one roommate, I’ve never actually had to share a bedroom with anyone, so it was tough for me to get used to the bustle of 6 other people while also trying to keep my own noise to a minimum. It didn’t help that the image I had of hostels was one straight out of a horror movie, either. Still, just like I’ve learned to do over my time abroad, I adapted and made the most of my situation. Besides, I wasn’t there to spend time on my top bunk, I was there to take in the sights of a new city. I loved the terra cotta roofs and vibrant flower boxes on every building, and I especially loved the churros and chocolate—a great excuse to eat dessert for breakfast. It was so amazing that just as I was getting comfortable here in Ireland I could try something completely new and different, and it made coming back all the more special, as I new exactly what to look forward to. While Madrid was amazing, I’m glad to be back in the city I’ve gotten to know over the past few weeks—although I was sorry to leave those warm Madrid days and sunny skies behind.