Over spring break, I went with a group of 22 other Tuckies (and a number of great Tuck Partners) to Madrid. We went on a very short exchange program (1 week) with the IE Business School. While there, we had wonderful classes taught by some of the “superstar” professors from IE. We learned about Spain’s entrepreneurial business atmosphere, the renewable energy sector in the EU, EU integration, and possibilities for the future of the Union. The mornings were full of classes where we discussed many different interesting things and the afternoons, mostly, were ours to explore the city of Madrid.
One day, as part of the course, we visited Telefonica, a multinational telecommunication firm with more than 307 million customers worldwide, though centered in Europe and Latin America. The Head of Global Resources, Guillermo Ansaldo a Tuckie himself, was gracious enough to sit down with the 23 of us and speak about his company, their strategy, and their future in the rapidly changing digital telecommunication space. He sat with us for more than an hour, answered all our questions, and spent time joking with us. It was an incredible afternoon to get access to such a unique perspective.
Of course, the entire week was not just academics. Madrid is a great city, one with distinct neighborhoods, lots of spirit and culture, and jamόn and wine. And, believe me, we relished it all. With blisters on our feet from walking all over the city, we Tuckies enjoyed the best. A few of our classmates who had previously lived in Madrid came there on break and served as amazing guides to the city. We had fabulous meals, went to wonderful clubs, visited the best tourist and historical spots, and many of us went to a bonafide flamenco show. I was lucky enough to go to a Real Madrid game. I went as a guest of a Tuck exchange student from the London School of Economics. Her husband is a lawyer for the European Football Association, so we were given VIP passes and special center field seats. You literally could not have bought better tickets. The game was great- Real Madrid played Moscow for the right to play in the quarterfinals of the Champions League. Even before the game we saw Russians and Spaniards getting into fights on the street. There was so much passion and enthusiasm in the stadium, the energy was infectious. The game was fast paced and I, and almost the entire rest of the stadium, was so excited when Madrid won. The stadium erupted. It was incredible - though the VIP area with amazing food, open bars, and the rest of the posh Spanish elite was not too bad either. Afterwards, we met up with the rest of the Tuckies at a club where our names were put down by another Tuckie who used to play basketball in Spain (the second most popular sport in the country). The club was fun, but it really started getting interesting when Real Madrid, the team, showed up to the same club. The entire night was one I won’t soon forget. The week was fabulous. Once I got back to the US, all I wanted to do was sleep, since that seemed like the one thing that we didn’t do all week. It was a great experience and I encourage anyone thinking about taking a learning expedition or exchange program- long or short- to go for it.