After two full weeks of classes, I feel like I am getting to know the way around Madrid better every day. There are several ways that I can get to school each day, although I have chosen to walk every day because of the nice weather. My walk to class takes about ten to fifteen minutes and is located near plenty of cafes and shops in case I need to stop for something on the way home. This is similar to classes at Pitt in that my walk from my house to campus is also around the same time, so I was used to getting to know how early I need to leave to get to class on time. Other than walking, I have also traveled around the city by bus and metro, mostly just to get to restaurants or other excursions. When I first arrived in Madrid, I purchased an unlimited 30-day metro card for 20 euros, which has already paid for itself considering how many times I use it.
Although I was a bit nervous at first about learning how to navigate the public transportation, the metro system in Madrid is fairly easy to use and extremely efficient. You can get to just about anywhere! In addition, the metro stops are all very clean, something I was surprised about given the size of the city. I enjoy traveling by metro because it is not something I am used to in Pittsburgh or at home in Buffalo. The only challenge I have faced so far in terms of the metro was getting to the airport for a weekend away in Portugal. I did not plan ahead enough and was unprepared when the metro station was swarmed with weekend travelers. Although it took longer than expected to get there, I still made my flight with plenty of time to spare.
I am very lucky that I have such a short commute to class every day. Other students that have gone abroad before sometimes had commutes up to an hour long—that is precious exploring time wasted! Any advice I would have to other students who may travel to Madrid is to plan ahead, at least in the beginning when things are still new. Building in time when trying to get somewhere at a specific time is important, especially with how public transportation can at times be unpredictable. It is important to also keep in mind the lifestyle of most people in Spain—no one is rushing around to get anywhere so be patient and embrace it.