In my last post, I talked about some of my initial observations from moving and living abroad. Well, it got me thinking and I have a few more things I’d like to share. But while the last post was mostly focused on things to consider when you’re moving abroad, this post is more about what I first noticed when I moved to Madrid.
One of the first things that I noticed when moving to Madrid was the sheer age of the city. The city and its surrounding areas are very old. They aren’t old in the sense that they are run down, they are just very old. They have been around for a while. Something that very few Americans think of before traveling abroad is just how old things in Europe and other countries really are. After all, there is a reason why they call the Americas “The New World.”
Madrid was founded in the 9th century. Now contrast that to America’s founding of 1776. Obviously there were English settlements in America before the founding of the United States, but even Jamestown was only founded in 1607, making it only 400 years old. This puts cities like Madrid a full 600 years older than the older British settlement in America, making it more than twice as old. Taking tours of Madrid’s finest building will have you looking at architecture that is sometimes a thousand years old. There is literally nothing in the United States that is this old, illustrating just how remarkable the experience is. The history is incredibly rich and ripe for exploration.
If you are at all a history buff, even the most passive of one, living abroad is an absolute delight. Europe obviously has been the center of much of the last 400-500 years of history. It has had two world wars, countless revolutions, and sprawling imperialistic conquests.
Madrid was the capital of the former Spanish empire throughout the middle ages and has so much to explore.
As you consider where you want to start your career and what exactly it is that you want to pursue, I strongly encourage anyone to take a trip abroad. You may end up loving it so much that you stay there just like me. And it’s not at all a bad experience. You end up meeting new people, people you would have never otherwise met. You gain an international perspective of the world and you get to live in Europe!
A way that I describe Europe to some of my friends stateside (although my European friends don’t like it when I say this, so don’t tell them ;]) is that Europe is basically like the United States except instead of having different states under the same federal government they are all independent countries. If you look at the entire continent of Europe it is 10 million square kilometers and the United States is 9.6 million square kilometers. It is also composed of 50 countries while the United States is composed of 50 states. The only difference is there are a lot more languages spoken in Europe than the United States, which can get really difficult to get used to and the American in me still finds somewhat inefficient.