There are so many sights to see in Spain and it would be impossible to name them all. The Picos de Europa are a wonderful string of mountains that boast incredible views of the nearby fields. The Cathedral of Toledo holds so much history and incredible sculptures. The aqueduct of Segovia was built by the Romans nearly 2,000 years ago. But, all these landmark locations could not have impressed me as much as one of the newer additions to this old country. The transportation system of Madrid and throughout Spain was one of the biggest surprises to me.
As a kid living in the US, I was confined to my neighborhood as I could only travel to my friend’s house or to the park by having my mom drive me. At the University of Alabama, I did not bring my car so I was dependent on the kindness of my friends to drive me around. But here, in Spain, the transportation system is somewhat of a wonder. I can step out my door, take a left, and then descend into the Metro station. From there, the possibilities are endless as all of Madrid is 30 minutes or less away. The Metro of Madrid is the most efficient and clean public transportation I have ever seen, not what I expected from a city of over three million people. Not only was it fast, it also reduced car emissions and other negative effects of having a high concentration of vehicles in an area. When my friends and I wanted to go to the beaches of Barcelona or the mountains of Asturias, we only had to hop on a train for a quick three-hour trip. All we had to do is sit back and relax. Gone were the days of dealing with angry drivers and traffic. I was surprised that something rarely talked about in the tourism guides to Spain had affected me this much. Through this experience, I have learned that sometimes the best things you can find in a study abroad could be right under your nose, literally!