Making the Most of Madrid

This being my first time in Europe, I didn’t know what to expect. Without expectations to color my experience, Madrid is absolutely blowing me away.

I’ve been keeping a journal to record my travels and write about my activities every day, including my time volunteering and how I spend my free time. Each day has been an adventure with new surprises!

“These new friends have given me an outsider’s perspective of the United States and the world itself while also being great companions as we all explore Madrid for the first time.”

Regarding the program, Independent Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) has placed me and my fellow students from SDSU into one of their teaching programs. When I initially signed up for it, I thought I would be among many volunteers in a classroom teaching English. Little did I know there are various ways to teach English.

Myself and three other volunteers were placed in a program that provides supplemental teaching to a small group of boys ages 15-25 years old who are covering from addiction. At first, it seemed scary but with some guidance provided by the IVHQ team, we were able to come up with our own activities and lessons. Because only a couple of us know Spanish, there is a bit of a language and some activities can be difficult. However, the boys end up teaching us a bit of Spanish while we teach them.

Also, the World Cup is going on and they are all crazy about Spain.

Being a part of an independent study abroad program, I’ve had the opportunity to meet people from all over the world including Italy, Latvia and even the small island of Mauritius (which I didn’t even know existed). These new friends have given me an outsider’s perspective of the United States and the world itself while also being great companions as we all explore Madrid for the first time.

When we first arrived on Sunday morning, a group of us were able to walk around Madrid and preview some of its liveliness, from eating churros with chocolate to rowing boats in El Retiro Park. From then on, we’ve explored many museums and tapas bars. Madrid, is a city that rarely sleeps and the night life is amazing as well.

After one week of being here, I can say that each day I am surprised by what Madrid has to offer. From finding the best eats to learning about the city’s history in the Royal Palace (as shown in the picture above), Madrid’s vibrant culture does not disappoint. And through IVHQ, I am learning about the city’s people and not getting lost on public transportation. I am not close to running out of things to do in Madrid as there are plenty of museums to see and eateries to dive into.

Although I have a limited amount of time, I’ll be making the most of Madrid and the most of my summer.

Bryce Wong is a third-year kinesiology pre-physical therapy major. He is spending two weeks this summer in Madrid, Spain teaching English and providing after-school programs through International Volunteer HQ.

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