Welcome back to my blog again! In this post I am going to share my experiences as a CIEE Global Scholar and what it entails to be in a program that allows students to choose three countries to study in, focusing on the living situations in each country.
In Madrid my first location I lived in an apartment in the Chamberí neighborhood with five other students from the CIEE program. We happily realized we would all be roommates when we met at the airport on the first day of orientation. This led to the quick discovery that four of the five of us would be moving to London next block, and allowed greater peace of mind. Something CIEE heavily advocated months prior to arrival was the completion of a roommate compatibility form, and to my delight found that all my roommates had high levels of consciousness.
I fully came into study abroad with no expectations about living situations and found our apartment in Madrid to be very spacious for it to be located in Spain’s capital city. In Spanish culture, apartments are the normal living situations and in the tightly packed city, young adults live with their families until they get married and move out. For students whose school required a homestay that option was available, the majority of students lived in apartments in the same complex. Not having air conditioning in the apartment took adapting too, but it enhanced the native Spaniard experience.
During Block 2, I lived in an apartment building near the Angel neighborhood in East London. My roommates and I from Block 1 reached out to the housing director and were able to room together in Block 2 as well. Looking back I am incredibly grateful and the ability to have daily interactions with the same group of friends for 12 instead of 6 weeks. I have created life-long friendships with people who were strangers to me three months ago.
When placing students CIEE focuses on locating them in safe neighborhoods, near grocery stores, and public transportation. In any of the locations, I have lived in I have never felt unsafe at night, and the accessibility of grocery options and transportation has been a lifesaver. In London, homestays are not available and the only option is apartments. However, students who elect to take a class or classes at local colleges will have no problem meeting other students and seeing differences in apartment styles.
Finally, in Block 3 I began living in a dorm rather than an apartment. CIEE Berlin is one of the biggest programs with over 150+ students and refurbished an old automotive warehouse into their new Global Institute. This means in the cold November and December mornings I simply walk from my first-floor dorm room to the ground level for classes. The neighborhood they are located in is called Kreuzberg and is very sought out with a number of coffee shops, bars, and restaurants in the area. As an upperclassman living in a dorm again is a throwback and using shared laundry and cooking areas is sometimes an adventure, to say the least.
London Apartment: http://angloaccommodation.com/apartment/ability-towers/