My commute to the Universidad Carlos iii de Madrid takes about forty-five-minutes on a normal day. When I first got here, it was easy to compare the hour and a half I had to allow myself to get ready and travel to school to my fifteen-minute wake-up call before class in Pittsburgh. It was frustrating at first, knowing that roughly two hours each day were wasted going to-and-from school. After a few weeks of the commute, the time chunk I spent traveling didn’t seem as bad. I began using this time to catch up on global news, practice my Spanish on other commuters along the way, and complete readings for my abroad classes.
I live about a three-minute walk away from Sol’s public transit station. This has really saved me on the days that I struggle to get up and have to rush out the door with minimal time to spare. Once I arrive at Sol, I hop on the Cercanías- otherwise known as a train- and have four stops until I get off at Las Margaritas. This semester my earliest class starts at 12:30 PM, allowing me to avoid any sort of business traffic.
The train rides go by relatively fast with my usual commute routine but it was a little hard to get the hang of the transit systems at first. I come from a small suburban town about an hour outside of Philadelphia, PA. So public transportation has always been a foreign concept for me aside from our occasional train rides into center-city or New York. At the University of Pittsburgh, I don’t use public transportation nearly as much as you would assume a student at a city school would. All of my classes at Pitt are within a ten-minute walking distance and the only excuse I have to hop on the bus is for activities I do outside of school. The only times I really use it are to get to work in Lawrenceville twice a week and to yoga in Shadyside a few times a week as well.
Like any other commute, it is easy to dread the hours wasted. I’m happy that I’ve learned to make the most of my time in Madrid and put it towards productive activities that will better my knowledge of the culture around me. The only advice I have to any future Carlos iii de Madrid students is to have patience. Transit systems do occasionally stop randomly for amounts of time so you should give yourself an extra few minutes in your commute if you can. Also, remember to account for the Spaniard lifestyle around you, no one is in a rush to get anywhere! The public transportation system throughout Madrid is one of the best throughout Europe. Once you get the hang of it, your commute will become another mindless action of repetition.