Our Fearless Leaders of API Madrid

Tyler Wigington is a a student at Texas A&M University and an official API Student Blogger. Tyler is studying abroad with API this spring in Madrid, Spain.

When I made the decision to study abroad in Madrid, I was excited about being independent in a foreign country.  However, I also felt a little uneasy about being alone in Spain without any sort of guidance.  Yes, I was going with API and yes, I would be with a fairly large group of other study abroad students.  Despite those reassurances, I was worried that I wouldn’t have anyone to turn to with the inevitable problems or issues that come with traveling.

Enter the API Madrid Resident Directors, Maria Angeles and Quique.  They are in charge of running the API programs in Madrid.  Additionally, they coordinate excursions, trips (both in-country and international), fun activities (like flamenco lessons and cooking classes), and volunteer opportunities.  Quique, short for Enrique, was born in Uruguay, lived in New York City for a while, moved to Spain, and began working with API.  On the other hand, Maria Angeles is a true Madrileña, having lived in Madrid all her life.  Both of them are full of life and quite obviously love their jobs and love introducing naïve American students to the great place that is Spain.

From the minute we landed in Madrid, they were there to tell us which way up was again.  I had been to Madrid before, but it was still overwhelming knowing that I had just signed on for five months in a non-English speaking country on the other side of the world.  Gulp.  Thanks to these two lovely people, though, everything became a little less daunting.

During the three-day orientation, they explained everything from housing to Spanish cuisine to places to avoid in Madrid (although there aren’t many!).  All good information to know before embarking on the big adventure of studying abroad.  By the end, I had even more questions, but I at least felt more at ease about the semester, especially knowing that they were always there as resources.

They also stressed that it was important to be open to new things, new people, and new cultures while in Spain.  Quique encouraged us to eliminate the word “weird” from our vocabularies, since it is used far too much to describe things that are “different.”  After almost an entire semester abroad, I think that is the best advice I’ve received thus far. 

Throughout the past few months, I have had some ups and downs, and knowing that at least one of them was a quick metro ride or phone call away made me a little more relaxed.  Besides that, I have definitely taken advantage of them for travel advice, printing tickets or notes for class, and even practicing my Spanish!  I try to make it in fairly often, although they might disagree, to catch up and brush up on my Spanish some more.  Yes, they do a wonderful job at coordinating API events and students in Madrid, but they also are extremely friendly and knowledgeable, which makes this semester even better!  I can’t imagine the past few months in Madrid without these two great people in charge.

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Flashback to our Fall API student's first days in Spain. Madrid orientation with our friends from api_granada, Salamanca guided tour, and lunch tapas (+first days of classes!)

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