With (l-r) Diana Sánchez Ceballos, Mario López Pinilla, Sergio Martin, Bob Trosset, and Ana Rubio Ruiz

With (l-r) Diana Sánchez Ceballos, Mario López Pinilla, Sergio Martin, Bob Trosset, and Anna Rubio Ruiz

Loyola University Maryland offers three living options for students who choose to study abroad in Madrid, Spain. Students have the option to live with a host family, in university housing or in independent apartments in the city.

As a Spanish and journalism double-major, the opportunity to be immersed into the Spanish language was what initially appealed to me about the program.

Fast forward to the application process.

I was really struggling with deciding between living with a host family or in an independent apartment. I knew I wanted to live with Spaniards, but didn’t necessarily want to be bound to the rules that come along with living with a host family. For example, students studying in Alcala de Henares must let their families know they won’t be around for dinner 24 hours in advance.

I ultimately elected to find an independent apartment in Madrid. This meant that I would fly into Madrid and not know where I’d be sleeping that night.

This method isn’t for everyone. I was up for an adventure, though.

After negotiating rent with several Spanish-speaking landlords, I found a place in La Plaza de España.

The “flat” is made up of eight total people, all of which are students. I live with four Spaniards, two French girls and an Aussie. At any given point, one can hear three different languages being spoken. Believe me, this can be overwhelming at times!

I can’t speak enough about how much assistance I’ve received from the Spaniards with everyday things regarding Spanish life. When I want to travel to small towns outside of Madrid, Sergio helps me navigate the city via the bus system. When I needed help translating an interview I conducted in Spanish, Diana took time out of her day to sit down with me.

And I return the favor.

My flatmates, Diana, Ana, Sergio and Mario, are in various Masters programs throughout Madrid. I’ve been able to give them assistance with the English language when they’re struggling on an assignment.

This has created a unique friendship between the five of us.

Later this month, they plan on taking me to their home town of Toledo. I can’t think of a better way to travel than alongside locals.

Whether I’m doing laundry, making breakfast, hanging out in the living room or rushing out the door, I’m constantly surrounded by the Spanish language and forced to speak it.

My objective from the beginning has been to put myself in a position to return back home in December fluent in the Spanish language.

Without my living situation being the way it is, I wouldn’t be on my way to doing so.

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