by Amalia Mobley

With plans to move and expand the campus to a bigger and more modern building, New York University’s Madrid campus is becoming one of the college’s fastest-growing abroad campuses.

Spain is not first choice for Americans

Far from being its most popular abroad site (take the large and intimidating NYU Shanghai or NYU Abu Dhabi campuses, for instance), it still boasts a steadily increasing student body, with 80 students for the Fall 2017 semester and 110 for Spring 2018. In addition, the NYU campus not only strictly houses NYU students; the campus at Calle Segre, 8 has classes that are open to students from other institutions as well, including Barnard College and Duke University.

Andalucia equal Spain

So, what is it that attracts American students to Spain? Inviting stereotypes could definitely play a part. Many of Spain’s stereotypes are born of exaggerated Andalusian tradition, such as the notion of constant flamenco and bullfighting. Other Spanish stereotypes exist, including a nation-wide observed and practiced siesta, frequent wine-drinking, and rich food, which could be attractive to prospective students.

I find, however, during my academic year-long journey to explore Spanish culture, that these stereotypes (generalizations that they are) are not such extreme exaggerations of the way Españoles live their lives. The siesta is not so widely observed as the stereotype suggests: some stores and restaurants close for a few hours in the early afternoon, but observance is sparse past that.

Spain is linked to strong stereotypes

I have wine on occasion for lunch, and I find that the food is rich, but isn’t just cured meats and egg tortillas. I find that the atmosphere in an academic, professional, and casual context is relaxed, much more so than in the United States. The time to socialize is given more importance, leading to long and talkative lunches and dinners. I find that this makes people generally more relaxed going about their day, and that it’s relatively easy for American students to adjust to this comfortable atmosphere.

Outside of social life, Spain is academically intriguing. Spain has seen many evolutions throughout its thousands-year-old history, from the Reconquista to the more recent Franco dictatorship. It’s a country whose history shows in every aspect of life, from architecture to social customs. One particularly interesting angle of study is Spain’s complicated relationship with historic memory regarding the Spanish Civil War, and is the very subject I am researching during my time here. Spanish society and Spanish history are areas of academia that continue to fascinate many of my peers.

Spain is much more than Flamenco and beaches

Spain is a country full of autonomous regions, full of places to better understand the many-faceted and dynamic Spanish culture. Overall, it’s a place whose social atmosphere tends to be much more relaxed than in the U.S., and whose extensive, rich, and varied cultural history makes for an intensely fascinating site to spend a semester or two abroad. And of course the Prado: We love Spanish art.