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Jason McDonald: Student Report from 2013 Alternative Summer Break in Spain

Segovia, Spain
McDonald and fellow travelers visited sites such as Segovia, Spain, shown above.
Jason McDonald at Castle of Queen Isabella
Kevin Gayler, above, and International Coordinator Judith Mallory, tour the Castle of Queen Isabella in Segovia, Spain.

Going abroad has never really appealed to me. It takes time, money, and willingness to do touristy things, all things that a college guy like me tries to avoid. That being said, I decided to try it out for a short time by going on a week-long faculty-led trip to Madrid, Spain.

Having never been out of the country, I didn’t quite know what to expect. Surprisingly, it was honestly one of the coolest and most fun things I have ever done!

Bike Tour of Madrid
Bike Tour of Madrid

The best part for me was staying with a local host by myself. My homestay host, Tomas, was one of the most intellectual, interesting, and fun people I have met in a long time. Even though his primary language was not English, and I don’t know a single word of Spanish, we were still able to communicate exceptionally well. Tomas taught me many things about Spanish culture, nutrition, and even philosophy.

The academic lectures on the trip were engineering-related, and seemed pretty standard, however, it was cool to see how another country’s college campus operates. I will say that this trip was physically exhausting. Every activity the group did was physical in some way; walking around the city, walking to campus, bike riding through the streets of Madrid, touring cathedrals, walking under Roman aqueducts, going into castles, and much more. By the end of the day, the six hour time difference didn’t matter, you were tired.

Jason McDonald in Madrid
Jason McDonald traveled to Madrid, Spain, with fellow College of Engineering students Kevin Gayler and Zach Wood

Seeing a city that has been built on culture and ancient history was completely different than anything that can be seen in America. Overall, the trip was super fun and has left me with a desire to travel again.