I’m now a month into my study abroad experience and I associate my day-to-day life in Madrid with a lot of things: drinking tinto de verano with friends at a café, talking about politics with my host family over cena, and taking a run in Retiro park. However, above all, when I think of daily life in Madrid, I think of the metro system. A very glamorous life to lead, I know, but on a typical day I can spend over 3 hours on public transportation, so a good relationship with the system is vital.
The main culprit for my long journeys is school. While the business campus of University Comillas Pontifica is in the heart of Madrid, my buildings, the humanities ones, are out in the suburbs of Cantoblanco. Door to door, it’s a 50-minute journey from my home to my first class of the day. This may seem like a lot, and some days it is, but the process is made easier by the stellar transportation system that Madrid has built. After suffering through Georgetown’s lack of metro stations and outrageous prices, it’s a welcome change.
As a student, I pay 20 euros a month for my transportation card which covers all buses (they have wifi), metros (my stop is less than 5 min from my house), and regional trains (also necessary to get to school). I’m pretty sure you can spend $20 in a day on the DC metro so this fixed cost in Madrid allows us to take the metro for only one or two stops without any feelings of guilt. The metro here is never late, always clean, and very easy to navigate. None of which can be said about the D.C. metro.
Most of my afternoons in Madrid are spent exploring, so metro stops all over the city have become familiar. If I’m at Manuel Becerra, it means I’m heading home to the upscale neighbourhood of Salamanca where I live. Around my home stop there are always children in their Catholic school uniforms, and families walking their dogs. If I’m at Argüelles, it means I’m heading to my Wednesday night class at the ICADE campus of Comillas in the heart of the university district. If I’m at Nuevos Ministerios, I’m either switching to catch the train to school or the metro to the airport. If I’m at Gran Vía, it’s to go shopping with all the tourists. If I’m at Sol, I’m waiting to meet friends to go out for the night.
Somedays I wish I never had to see the inside of a metro. It can be time-consuming, crowded, and frustrating, especially when you miss the train by 2 seconds. However, for the most part, I’m very grateful to live in a large city that has been made so accessible to me. Hopefully, by the end of the semester, I’ll have visited every metro stop in Madrid, or at least the important ones.