Dec 012002
Authors: Maria SanchezTraynor

MADRID, SPAIN – When was the last time you decided at 7 p.m. to drive 10 hours to a city you’ve never been to with a $30 budget and actually be on the road with three friends by 9 p.m.?

For some strange reason, this kind of thing isn’t all that abnormal here. Students think nothing of taking a huge road trip, just for the weekend, coming back with money to spare and, of course, a few dozen great stories.

In the United States, I consider myself good if I am able to plan out a spring break trip, and even then I try to do it months in advance just to have the security of knowing that everything will work out OK. I thought I was being spontaneous when I decided to go skiing the next day.

But up here, it’s different. There are so many wonderful things to see and so many great places to visit that you want to take advantage of everything possible. If that means you have to try to rent a car in half an hour, so be it. You can’t leave here without trying to see everything possible.

For the people who live here, it’s not the same. I have a 26-year-old cousin who lives in Madrid, and so far, in my three months here, I have almost seen more cities in this country than she had. The scary thing is, is that she has almost seen more cities in the United States than I have.

The United States was right at my fingertips. If I had pulled in with three or four friends I could easily have made a weekend trip several hours away on a tiny budget. But for some reason, I didn’t. People fly across oceans to see our country and our state, but I didn’t even notice. I always think that there’s time later on.

Up here, with so little time, you know you have to jump in that car, take that extra roll of film, drink that extra glass of wine and dance one more song because you’ll never get another shot at it.

At home, you always assume that you will get the chance later. But when is that later? When you have a mortgage? When you have a kid strapped in the back seat? When you and your husband can’t get the same days off? Being here has made me realize it is really now or never.

When I got here, I thought there were outside factors holding me back at the states and here, in Spain, I could really live it up. But now I know that it was just me who was holding myself back with excuses. There was always homework, or a job, or a budget crisis that always made me think– well, next month.

Now I think that gas between four people isn’t too expensive, I can read in the car, my sleeping bag is warm enough and I can easily live off of jelly sandwiches and water for a week.

I get back in December, anyone up for a road trip?

Maria Sanchez-Traynor is a senior majoring in English and Journalism. She always welcomes questions, comments and people to travel with. You can reach here at

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