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The City

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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.


Barrios

Similar to New York, each barrio (neighborhood) of Madrid has a different vibe to it. Here are a few of them:

  • Sol - the center of the city. This is the most touristy part of Madrid and the meeting spot for most Madrileños.
  • Malasana - similar to the east village. Malasana’s streets are lined with bars and restaurants, which is probably why this barrio is known for its young crowd.
  • Salamanca - comparable to the Upper East side of Manhattan. It is also one of the few places in Madrid where you will find the grid system.
  • Chueca – the center of Madrid’s gay scene. You’ll find lots of cool restaurants and shops around here too!


The People

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.

 

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Climate

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.


 A few things to keep in mind

  • Madrid is very laid back. The attitude there can be summed up in the word “mañana,” as in we will get to it tomorrow.
  • Lunch, especially on weekends, is the biggest meal of the day and is usually eaten around 2pm.
  • After lunch is siesta and many indoor markets and small shops will shut down during this time, so do not expect to get anything done from 2-5pm.


Getting Around

Subway

  • Cheap, clean and easy to learn
  • Closes at 1:30AM, opens at 6AM
  • For regular subway riders, get the Abono (monthly pass) at a Estanco (tobacco stand)
  • Hold your bags very close to you, pick-pocketing happens most often on the subway

Buses

  • Easy to use
  • Night buses run after the subway closes, but sometimes its better to take a taxi than search for a night bus
  • The 51 is right by campus and takes you right to Sol

Taxis

  • The best late night transportation
  • If you are alone at night, most cab drivers will usually wait until you open your front door before driving away

Walking

  • The best way to see the city


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