When I originally received my housing assignment from ISA two weeks before the start of my program, I had little understanding of the different neighborhoods within Madrid. I was anxious about where my apartment was going to be located and even more so about applying random for roommates.
Shortly after arriving, I began to realize how much I had lucked out when it came to housing. I live on a cute little street that is about a five-minute walk to the center of Puerta de Sol. Puerta de Sol is considered to be the center of Madrid, as well as a key tourist attraction for anyone who visits. This made it extremely easy when learning my whereabouts around the city because all of the transportation lines run through Sol and anyone familiar with the area could direct me back towards my home.
Being located in the center, anything I could need is within walking distance of my apartment. There are two grocery stores right across the street from my house, as well as many trendy coffee shops and restaurants dispersed throughout my neighborhood. As if my housing location could not get any better, directly behind my apartment are the streets of the well-known El Rastro- a local flea market that takes place every Sunday morning. At this market, you can find anything from handmade leather bags to some of the best croquettes in Spain. Walking out onto the streets on Sunday mornings, I am surrounded by hundreds of people, various bands performing, and delicious scents guiding me towards their booths.
As I decided what kind of housing I wanted, I ended up choosing an apartment in hopes that my roommates would become automatic friends. I came abroad to Madrid not knowing anyone and the apartment option seemed to be the one selection that would better my chances of having a smooth transition into my life abroad. Luckily, everything I had hoped for ended up coming true! I have three amazing roommates who live all across the United States. The three other girls go to school at Rollins College, UCLA, and the University of Denver- with this wide variety of locations, I have been exposed to many different lifestyles to learn from and interact with. The four of us became fast friends and have already been on numerous trips together.
Surprisingly, we live in a relatively spacious apartment for a large city with four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room, and a kitchen. Living in this area of Madrid, many of the apartments are older structures. With that being said, our walls are very thin. I have never had the chance to meet my next-door-neighbor, but we have had a few conversations through our bedroom walls. Another surprising thing about our apartment is we do not have a drying machine, which is very common across Europe. Obviously, this is not much of a problem at all, rather just an inconvenience trying to navigate through my bedroom on laundry day with various hanging lines and drying racks filled with clothes.
Looking back on all of the time I spent worrying about my living situation for the months I am abroad, I really can’t imagine the outcome turning out any better than it did. Every day that I wake up in this apartment starts to feel more and more like home.