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IES Abroad Madrid - Engineering Semester Program

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

When can I go back?

This past semester I studies abroad in Madrid, Spain, and it is an experience that I will always be grateful for. I was there for the spring semester of my junior year, a decision that I thought would be challenging to arrange as an undergraduate engineering student. While choosing classes with such a full plate, I always have had trouble pursuing other topics that interest me. Instead of sitting in a classroom learning about Spanish language and culture, I was able to travel and experience it for myself. The IES program staff did a great job helping me to transition to, as well as make the most of life in a new country. Every member of the program administration is experienced and supportive, and make efforts to reach out to all students throughout our time abroad.

This past semester has been such an incredible adventure, and I would recommend this program to anyone looking to go abroad. While completing my Engineering course requirements for the semester I was still able to take a spanish language course, as well as an art and architecture course that took visits to the works that we were studying once a week. The two engineering courses that I did take were offered at a great university, that also provided weekly tutoring for international students which was an invaluable resource.

During my time abroad I lived with a wonderful host family, that stayed in close contact with IES. It was amazing to feel so welcomed into a home where you are a complete stranger, and have a significant language barrier. Despite this, the whole family was so kind and patient that I never felt uncomfortable. I would strongly recommend anyone who travels with IES to choose a homestay because that is the best resource for cultural immersion, and it forces you to learn more of the language when you have to communicate daily.

Finally, I think the program did a great job to encourage students to get out and meet Madrid natives. There were multiple activities with spanish students open to abroad students, as well as opportunities for intercambios (meeting one on one with a native Spanish speaker who is learning English). In addition to this, there were countless trips provided through IES to travel to different cities in Spain and learn about the incredible history of where we were.

Studying abroad in Madrid is the best decision I have made, and I would encourage anyone who is given the chance to pursue it. There is so much to be seen and done if you take a chance and leave your comfort zone behind. The trip will leave you with memories and friendships to last a lifetime; thinking about it now, I wish I was heading back for another semester!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

The Magic of Madrid

As an engineering student, I loaded up on credits early on to make the opportunity of life abroad a reality. Like most engineers the options were limited, and as soon as Madrid was on the table I snatched it up and have yet to look back. Before the program, I had traveled to one other country and had a college career filled with engineering classes and void of all those fun jogging/wine making/art classes that my friends in other majors had sprinkled into their schedules over the years. IES stripped the engineering majors from the classic science/math only stereotype and allowed all of us to immerse in a vivacious, colorful culture. My schedule throughout my time abroad in Madrid afforded me the opportunity to experience Art History in the Prado and Spanish Culture and Language from the tongue of a native speaker. IES further arranged weekend trips throughout the Spanish countryside to places ranging from Segovia to Plasencia to Toledo. Whether planning a full list of activities or coaching us through scheduling and tutorials, IES was the premium trip provider in every respect. I left Spain after traveling to 12 countries, eating way to much paella, and basking in the sun endlessly in Parque Retiro, and yet still I have a deep hunger to go back--I simply cannot get enough. Just as IES made the transition to Spain seamless, the team's professionalism, positivity, and support remained seamless throughout my entire four and a half month stay.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    8

Better than I Could Have Imagined

For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to study abroad. I love exploring new cultures and traveling to new places. I had been dreaming of every possible scenario of what my experience would be like before I left. Studying abroad with IES in Madrid was even better than I could have imagined. When I arrived, I was immediately welcomed by the IES staff at the airport. And this was just the beginning. Throughout the semester, I felt like the staff was always there to guide and help us while still giving us the free range to explore and grow in a new country.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    7

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

La vida loca!

For six memorable months, I lived in a small central town in Madrid called Embajadores. Although my Spanish was limited to “hola” and “cómo estás” before I arrived, I managed to get around pretty well! My host mom was phenomenal - IES does make sure that families are very welcoming and they check on you throughout the semester. She knew some English but she made the effort to teach me Spanish by speaking very slowly and talking to me about the different aspects of the Spanish culture over our daily sobremesa. Long story short, I highly I recommend living with a host family to improve your Spanish and get a glimpse of the typical family life there. When I first arrived to Spain I traveled to other European countries frequently on the weekends since domestic flights in the euro zone are cheap, but as my departure date drew closer, I realized how much I enjoyed the local trips that IES has organized and decided to explore Madrid more closely which turned out to be a great decision! IES organizes many trips throughout the semester but most of the trips happen during orientation. Traveling around within Madrid was really easy with the unlimited transportation card that IES helps you get during orientation - you have to apply online before you arrive though so I highly recommend doing that. I think letting myself get lost with my friends and learning how to use a real map rather than GPS always ended with an interesting story! Overall, I’m really grateful for the opportunity to expand my cultural awareness and widen my horizons. The incredible experiences I had and the long-lasting relationships I made will always be a reminder of how incredible it is to open your mind and heart to a new culture and embrace the little things, like the slower pace of life, the impeccable fashion style, the great tapas and sangrias, and of course, the being casually late rule!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

Fall 2014

I had an absolutely wonderful time in Madrid! The lively city kept me amazed and entertained for four incredible months. Everyday was something new and with the multitude of museums, restaurants, bars, and sight seeing locations, I was never bored. The city has so many interesting neighborhoods and parks that are great to explore when you have a few hours to spare. If you decide you want to explore outside of the city for a bit, there are several towns just a short bus ride away with tons of history that are sure to surprise you.
The IES center in Madrid is full of extremely helpful and friendly people. I was constantly surprised by how often they went the extra mile to make the students were getting the most out of their study abroad experience.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Social Life

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Academics

    10

It's Not Goodbye, It's See You Later

I cannot praise and commend my past semester abroad in Madrid, Spain enough. Upon one week’s return to the US, my friends back home already got tired hearing about me boast on and on about the experiences I went through while away for the semester. It was an adventure of a lifetime and I would most definitely recommend Madrid to any student looking to study abroad. Madrid was an endless city—one with tons of historic events, art, culture, and most importantly, a place that felt like home away from home. From day one, I was surrounded by students like myself, by natives who welcomed all foreigners, and by staff members and professors who wanted nothing more than to help fully immerse us into this new world.
My host mom welcomed me into her home with arms wide open and always a smile on her face. She was amused and excited to learn about my culture and my background and to try and teach me about her way of life and her traditions. Some memories will always include days she came home screaming about something new she found in the city—a new store, new café, or a new viewpoint of the city that she couldn’t wait to share with me. I loved weekends where her extended family would come over and include me as if I were another cousin in the bunch. Family conversations would escalate for hours upon hours aside a deliciously home cooked traditional meal.
Learning in the classroom in Madrid allowed me to experience a whole new field of education. As a pre-med student, I have always been glued to textbooks, working on science and math problems, and trying to understand things in a conceptual sense. However, the classes I took while abroad introduced me to a new sphere of thinking. Taking classes about literature, architecture, and art history not only expanded my critical and creative thinking but also taught me about the history of Spain as a country. Watching movies, reading stories and looking at art work from historic Spain taught me a lot about the cultural movements of the country and as well allowed me to better appreciate architecture and art as I walked through the city daily.
Of course, learning was not only limited to the classroom. I was constantly learning new words by going to the supermarket, to restaurants, and to cafes, meeting many natives and further other tourists and study abroad students visiting the city. I took advantage of travelling on the weekends and only left the country of Spain for one weekend! I still can’t wait to go back and visit a few other cities I did not have the chance yet to see. The history and culture of each Spanish city I visited varies drastically. From the Aqueduct in Segovia to the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, the art and architecture of each building design is so different and speaks a thousand words on its own.
Although I am sad that the semester came to an end, I am incredibly grateful for the experience I had while away and hope that students will continue to visit Madrid and to see all it has to offer. I am lucky to have the opportunity to speak on behalf of IES and share my experience with others and try to promote this incredible prospect. It is not goodbye, it is see you later, Madrid. I will be back.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    6

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

Great Program

I absolutely loved my time in Madrid and am so happy I chose to study abroad with IES. The staff is incredibly helpful and supportive and they organize trips and events throughout the entire semester. You really can't beat this study abroad program...
Living in Madrid was a wonderful experience. It is a vibrant city full of culture and things to do. IES had multiple optional events like museum visits, cooking classes, dance classes, walking tours of different parts of the city, etc, almost every week. Even if you choose not to participate in IES events, there is never a shortage of things to do during the day in Madrid. And of course, the tapas, sangria, and overall nightlife can't be beat.
IES planned 4-5 trips to different parts of Spain, all of which were a great time. You can also travel on your own very easily since the Madrid airport is a major hub and most students can choose to only have class Monday-Thursday.
Housing through IES was also very good. I chose to live in a homestay, which most students choose. IES works extremely hard to match you up with a Senora who will fit your needs (though all of them are truly great). Most students lived in a neighborhood where other IES students were, and all of us were close enough to a metro that meeting up was no problem.
There's a pretty extensive selection of classes you can take since you can choose from three different schools. The majority of the Engineering classes are in English but you'll be in a classroom with Spaniards, which is great, and the classes themselves are not terribly difficult. Classes at the engineering school are hit or miss in terms of how engaging they are but the classes offered at IES are all taught very well.
Overall, IES Madrid was a fantastic experience. I couldn't imagine having chosen to study anywhere else but this awesome city. IES made the transition incredibly smooth and the staff is extremely supportive. I made friends through IES that will last a lifetime and I am counting down the days until I return to Spain again. Go abroad, go to Madrid, and do it through IES... seriously.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    7

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

Why engineering students should go to Madrid

Flamenco, paella, temperate sun, and a striking sense of fashion; these are a few things that I had anticipated to see when I embarked on my flight from Kuwait City to Madrid. I was equipped with my previous (and ongoing) study abroad experience in the United States, and I was ready to set off on yet another journey in the beautiful country that gave birth to Goya and Velazquez (Spain; in case you haven’t guessed it yet). I was armed with a set of helpful instructions from IES Abroad, which aided me in detail from landing in Madrid Barajas Airport till I got to the hotel. That night, I met the students with whom I would spend the most amazing times, as well as the instructors who would make this experience as enriching and as fruitful as possible. We set off to get tapas (Spanish hors d’oeuvres) with drinks; the first visit of many to come. Later, I had met with the host family that IES had paired me with.
My family consists of Carmen and Àngel. with their daughter Maria. Carmen and Àngel are both retired teachers, while Maria works as a nurse in the local hospital. We lived in Embajadores, a borough of Madrid which is right off Centro (downtown). I spent my first two weeks just exploring Madrid as a part of orientation, with my family and with IES. From visits to the Prado museum to the long strolls through the Royal Gardens, it was truly dreamlike. Toward the end of those two weeks, I was introduced to the University in which I would resume taking my engineering degree requirements; Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (The University of Carlos III of Madrid; or UC3M).
The engineering campus is situated in Leganes, a small city right outside of the City of Madrid, but still within the autonomous community (i.e. “governorate”) of Madrid. It took a daily 20- to 30-minute train ride from Centro to Leganes, but it really flew by every morning considering the beautiful scenic routes that the trains took. My classes had around 30-40 students on average, and the professors were really good. Everyone was bilingual, and the courses were offered in English and Spanish, on demand. Additionally, IES had appointed us with mandatory tutoring, which accounts for 25% of the grade of each course. This really helped adjust the students to the Spanish educational system, especially at the beginning. The Spanish system is a little different from the American one, but it’s not too wildly hard to adjust to. The grades are given on a 1-10 scale. There is hardly any homework, just a lot of lab work and engineering projects. Thus, the midterms hold quite a heavy weight, and so does the final (60%). However, the magical portion of the Spanish system is that you can virtually do nothing throughout the semester, and just take the final to account for your entire grade (a huge risk, but it’s an option for those who previously know the material, and have finished the practical aspects). In Spain, it is not so much about the value of the grade itself, but rather whether or not you passed or failed the class. So you can imagine that the rigor and amount of work expected in Spain tends to be more difficult, when a C is perceived to hold the same weight as an A; roughly speaking.
In addition to my three UC3M courses, I took an intermediate Spanish class at IES, whose campus was situated in Moncloa, in the heart of the City of Madrid. My Spanish instructor, Profesora Buesa, was more than just an instructor. She, as all IES staff, served as a general resource for all the questions and issues that were raised during our time abroad. IES staff were incredibly approachable and helpful, but they did more than just educate us. Every weekend, we had a cultural activity. These activities ranged from meeting up with Spanish peers, going to Flamenco shows (and classes), traveling to other places in Spain (there were so many trips that I lost count), to cooking classes. We truly experienced the beauty and diversity of Spanish culture, and we met some of the most amazing people with whom we made long-lasting friendships.
Overall, I would say that my time in Spain was definitely life-changing (and everyone who studied abroad will tell you same thing, and we’re not exaggerating). Spain is a place that I will be visiting repeatedly throughout my life. My hosts, friends I made, and instructors are people that I will keep in touch with. And to be quite honest, no one does it like IES. The guidance and the supervision are things I’ve lacked when I’ve studied in other countries (and I can say I’ve been to a few). A lot of it was redundant, but it was necessary. With regards to Spain: No es una “adios”, es una “hasta luego.” (It’s not a “goodbye”, it’s a “see you later.”)

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

Electrical and computer engineering: spring 2016, Madrid

I'm extremely thankful for the opportunity provided to me by IES Abroad. The Engineering program in Madrid was organized in a way that allowed students to feel safe in a foreign country while also enabling and empowering us to explore the country on our own. IES Abroad provided trips and activities on a weekly basis, that allowed students in the program to get to know each other. During the initial orientation, we went on many trips around Madrid including Toledo and Segovia. The program provided tour guides who talked about the history behind each place, and gave interesting tid-bits throughout the journey. Tours to the Royal Palace and Madrid's many museums(I encourage you to return to these locations by yourself as well and explore them at your own pace) were also organized. IES offers (required) Spanish classes as well as Art and Architecture courses for those interested. Unfortunately, the timings of the Architecture courses conflicted with my Engineering courses so I was not personally able to take them. Some of my friends, however, were able to take the courses and said that the professor took them on weekly field trips to various museums and architectural sites around the city, and after the course was finished, they gained a new-found appreciation for the architectural beauty of Madrid.

The engineering school, Universidad Carlos III(UC3M) was fantastic as well. IES provided us with housing in the downtown area of Madrid, which is about a 30 min train ride to the school. At first the commute seemed more than I was used to (especially with 9am classes) but I learned to appreciate the fact that I was living downtown in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Don't be discouraged to pursue studying abroad in Madrid if you are an engineering major. I was able to take equivalent courses for my Electrical and Computer Engineering degree, and balanced the course load with travelling just fine. In fact, I was able to schedule my courses so that I had a free Friday, allowing me a 3 day weekend to sight-see.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Program Administration

    7

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Social Life

    9

Work Hard, Party Harder

There is always something going on in Madrid. I absolutely loved studying with Spanish students during the day and hanging out with them at night. If you are looking for a program that is academically challenging and culturally engaging then you've found it.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    9

An absolutely unforgettable semester!

Choosing to do a semester abroad with IES was the best decision I have made in college. Being an engineer, finding a study abroad program you like can be really challenging, but I LOVED this program and am so happy I chose it! Not only did it give me the opportunity to dust off my Spanish, but as an engineering student, I got to take classes with Spanish students at a real Spanish university. This really made all the difference between a program with just a satellite university with all American students and professors and the IES Engineering program. I had the opportunity to meet so many Spaniards my age who shared with me their culture and lifestyle (and also gave me really great tips on what to do and see in Madrid and the rest of the country). The IES staff were so supportive all throughout the semester, making a point to check in at least every month and make sure we were adjusting well to the new experiences. Also, I loved having the opportunity to live in a home-stay for five months with a Spanish family. This was one of my favorite parts of living in Spain for 5 months because it truly immersed me in the Spanish culture, forced me out of my comfort zone, and greatly improved my Spanish language capabilities. Thank you IES for an absolutely unforgettable semester!

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Social Life

    10

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Academics

    8

Engineering In Madrid

The IES Madrid Engineering program is great! I loved living in Madrid, there is so much to see and do and the nightlife is especially awesome. The classes are interesting and fair, even though they are difficult and the grading scale is different. Living in an apartment was ideal for me. I enjoyed the freedom of being on my own, but still got to know the other guys living in my apartment. Traveling is awesome! I flew to Munich and Paris, and took an overnight train to Lisbon. The IES sponsored trips around Spain are also great. I really enjoyed this program and I highly recommend it!