“Porque Madrid en realidad no es nada especial. No tiene un gran río ni apenas rascacielos. Ni canales ni lagos. Ni gloriosas ruinas ni mar. A Madrid le faltan muchas cosas. Pero tiene la gente por las calles. El rincón inesperado. La variedad. El contraste. La animación constante. Y sus costumbres. Vale la pena levantarse temprano -por una sola vez- para vivir un día la vida de Madrid”
Madrid can be an exhilarating, intoxicating, thrilling metropolis and an overwhelming, boisterous, mega terrain all wrapped into one. The importance of trying to find the balance between the two only becomes apparent once the excitement of being in a new country wears off and all basic necessities have been taken care of.
There may come a moment during your stay in Madrid when you no longer find dodging hundreds of people on the bustling street of Gran Via, or on your metro commute, as attractive when you want to get to your destination quickly. (There’s nothing like trying to run down the escalator to catch the train and somebody is standing dormant on the left side, blocking your lane to victory.)
To everyone back home the sun is something to be worshipped and never taken for granted, but if you’re here during the summer months, only you know the calor given off by the streets and buildings in this concrete jungle. All you want is a pool or an ocean, neither of which exist in the center of Madrid.
Maybe it is simply the cultural difference. Having difficulty communicating in Spanish, stores being closed in the middle of the day for siesta, having to ask for every little thing you need at the pharmacy instead of being able to walk in and simply grab the ibuprofen. Oh, and NO Peanut butter!!
All of these occurrences have the capability of adding a sense of discomfort to your experience and contribute to homesickness. Homesickness is a feeling of emotional distress that results from being torn out of your comfort zone. You feel disconnected from familiar people and places as a result of adjusting to a new environment, loneliness, language or cultural barriers, culture shock, and plenty of other factors.
Homesickness is a very normal situation for students abroad. Overcoming it takes work and effort but it is well worth the trouble. Once you get through it, you’ll be able to see everything around you in a new, more positive light. Here are some strategies that may help you triumph over the sickness and get you frolicking through Madrid again with a fresh pair of eyes.
- Take a break from social media – staying in touch back home is super important but being over connected can cause you to stunt the development of your life here. Finding the balance is key.
- Have some alone time – If you find the city too busy and you just need a minute to think, there is nothing wrong with scheduling some time to be alone. Spend about 30 minutes to shut everything else out around you and write in a journal or blog.
- Make your circle – The hardest part about being away from home is not having family and friends. The best thing you can do is make your new circle of friends here which will in-turn become your family abroad. Try making local friends as well, they will surely invite you to family functions.
- Find a hobby – If you already have one continue doing it! If you like to exercise, find a gym. If you like photography, check on the landscapes of Madrid. Doing what you love in the city will make you feel more at home.
- Stay positive – This is probably the most important. Stop the negative thinking and focus on the positive experiences and the good things happening around you right now! I promise thinking of the things that make your smile will only allow you to notice how great things actually are in Madrid.
Madrid. A city that never sleeps, that welcomes you, that squeezes you and finally hooks you. The best way to love it back, is to fall in love with each of its flaws while still continuing to find its virtues.
Text translation: Because Madrid is nothing special. It doesn’t have a great river and hardly any skyscrapers. It has neither ruins, nor lakes, nor beaches. But it has people on the streets, secrets and unexpected spots, continuous animation, variety. It’s worth getting up early -only once- to live one day the life of Madrid.
Resources on Homesickness: