Keep an open mind during your time abroad. Relatively similar though the host culture may seem, you’re away from home and away from your usual points of reference. From the outset, you may notice more visible differences, such as your bedroom and bathroom perhaps being smaller than what you’re accustomed to, or the local diet being different from what you had imagined. Furthermore, madrileñ@s may interact differently from how people do in your hometown. Let go and enjoy the ride!

The necessary acclimation process can be challenging, whether you are admitting it to yourself or not, and you may find your feelings ranging from excitement to missing friends and family back home. Know that this is normal, and don’t be afraid to reach out to your support system in Madrid. It goes without saying that your study abroad experience will have negative moments, just like any other experience in life.

Some tried-and-true tactics for overcoming culture shock include:

  • establishing easily attainable goals, especially writing them down
    • Example: Today, I’m going to relax for a while in the dining room with my host family instead of immediately heading back to my bedroom to watch my show.
  • taking up a hobby (meeting new people that share your interests will help!)
    • Examples: Did you know that Syracuse Madrid organizes pickup soccer games through the MadWorld program? Or that there are numerous ceramics studios in the Madrid area that offer classes?
  • being patient and giving yourself time to adapt–allow yourself to have good and not-so-good days
    • Example: Today, there was a misunderstanding when I ordered my morning coffee because my Spanish is a work in progress. I felt embarrassed, and it definitely started my day off on the wrong foot. My feelings are valid, and it’s important to remember that a big part of the reason I’m here is to improve my Spanish; mistakes are a huge part of that learning process!
  • incorporating physical exercise into your daily routine to help you relieve stress
    • Example: going for a jog around El Retiro
  • keeping a journal or blog
  • taking advantage of your resources–check out the menu on our Living in Madrid page!


Your physical health affects your mental health and your perception of your surroundings. The following questions may seem basic, but you should also consider what your answers would be:

  • Am I eating enough?
    • Am I eating three meals a day at reasonable intervals?
    • What am I eating? Is at least some of it nutritious?
  • Am I drinking enough fluids?
    • Do I keep a water bottle with me so that I stay hydrated?
    • What liquids am I drinking–mostly water?
    • How much caffeine or alcohol do I consume per week? Could it be considered excessive?
  • How many hours do I sleep at night?
    • Am I maintaining at least somewhat of a routine or daily schedule?
    • Do I have a “nighttime routine?”
    • Am I using electronics that emit blue light before I go to bed?
    • What time do I normally go to bed?
  • Do I work out?
    • If not, do I at least get the chance to walk a lot on a daily basis?
    • Do I overdo it when I work out? Do I listen to my body?

These factors, among others, can have a significant effect on your ability to deal with stress and adjusting to culture shock.