Anastasia Rud - 2014 Program Participant

Lake in Retiro Park in Madrid, Spain

The lake in the Retiro Park in the city of Madrid

What attracted you to studying abroad?

The particular track I chose for my international relations major has a requirement to study abroad, so I knew that this would be an inevitable part of my academic career. However, it was my choice in the first place, as I believed from early on that studying abroad would complement my studies.

Why did you choose ISA?

I was ineligible to participate in the programs offered by my university at the time, but I still needed to study abroad; after a quick Google search, I came across ISA's website. I really liked that there were many parts to the program, not just university and housing, but an on-site staff and activities/weekend trips. It is an all-inclusive program that covered a lot of my concerns for my trip.

What was your favorite part about Madrid?

The location was my favorite part of the program; being in a big city is certainly exciting and there is a plethora of activities to do. Madrid itself is truly an international city. I met so many people from all around the world and the exposure is exponentially greater than what I have at Davis. Not only did I have an opportunity to socialize with the Spaniards, but with other citizens as well.

What makes ISA’s program in Madrid special?

I think what made this ISA program unique was the itinerary. I appreciated the preplanned trips (four in total) to places I would not have travelled to otherwise. I had the opportunity to see smaller towns of Spain, and I am certainly glad I did.

How supportive was local staff?

The on-site staff was extremely helpful for any question, big or small. In my first week, the blinds were malfunctioning in my room, and after a quick email, the blinds were fixed by the same time the next day.

What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?

The one thing I wished I had done differently was stay longer; unfortunately the quarter system makes it difficult to travel for a longer period of time.

Describe a day in your life as an international student in Spain.

After waking up and get ready, I would walk down a couple of blocks to take the metro to campus. After a few hours of class, I would meet up with my friends and head into the city center to walk around and explore, to shop, and have dinner. If we weren't eating out or if I had an assignment due soon, I would go grocery shopping in the evening and prepare dinner at the residencia. On the weekend, I would be heading off on a trip, arriving on Sunday evening or Monday morning back to Madrid.

What is one of your most memorable moments from your time in Madrid? 

I had the opportunity to see an Enrique Iglesias concert while I was in Madrid. This was one of my main splurges that did not have to do with the program, but was recommended by the ISA Madrid office on their list of cultural activities. Being a huge fan, it was an unforgettable homecoming concert; the energy in the arena was incredible. It was a treat to sing along to Spanish songs with the Spanish fans, it was a gratifying and uniting experience.

Where did you live in Madrid? What did you like about your accommodation?

I lived in a residencia, or student apartment, on Gran Vía for the three months. I absolutely loved the location, right in the center of the city. I could reach the Palacio Real in ten minutes by foot, Sol in five, and Plaza de España in two. There were more than three metro stops within a ten minute walking range. Being close to the retail and grocery stores made life really enjoyable!

Now that you're home, how do you think studying abroad in Spain has impacted your life?

I came to the conclusion that Spanish is something that I have always pursued, but never exactly realized I could turn into a professional skill. After my experience in Spain, and with all of the practice that I got, I know now that learning another language was worthwhile. Living in a different country on my own made me realize how lucky I was to be able to participate in the first place, and helped me learn that I have the strength to do so!