Madrid is the central hub of modern Spain, with a vibrant urban flair. The city is a hive of activity, with great investments being made in construction and improvements to the city's infrastructure. Madrid is also the country's business center, home to an array of banks and international companies, and fashion capital—a fact easily gleaned from the citizens' tasteful street style and the many trendy boutiques along the Calle de Serrano. Despite the hub-bub of daily life in the metropolis, Madrileños take it all in stride, giving the impression of being quite relaxed about it all.
Similar to New York, each barrio (neighborhood) of Madrid has a different vibe to it. Here are a few of them:
In general, Spaniards are very friendly people with open character. The separation of work and life is of the utmost importance here. There are always strong fashion fads amongst the younger people, but keep an open mind as they can be very different from home. Also, be aware that not many people wear shoes that show toes, like sandals or flip-flops, and shorts are also rare. Spaniards take pride in their appearance and you will stand out if you dress too casually.
Madrid has a dynamically varied climate—rich, sunny warmth in the summer and a damp cool breeziness during the winter. Winter temperatures rarely dip below freezing, even in the coldest months of December in January. When packing for a semester abroad, whether fall or spring, it's best to bring clothes for layering, which can be easily piled on in the colder months or minimalized on sun-filled days.