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IES Abroad Madrid Summer

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

An Unforgettable Experience

Studying abroad this past summer in Madrid was one of the best decisions I have made. At first I was hesitant to apply to this program because I had never been out of the country before. But I knew that this was a step that I needed to take, and I am so happy that I made that decision because it was an amazing six weeks. I was able to achieve so many of the study abroad goals that I set for myself before going. I gained greater confidence in my speaking abilities and was able to immerse myself in the culture. I remember leaving for Madrid the first day. I was excited and a little nervous sitting at the airport, and I had no idea what I was about to experience, and didn’t realize how different I would be when I returned just six weeks later.
The IES program requires that you take two classes: a Spanish language class and an area studies course. I chose to take “Madrid the City.” My language class definitely helped me improve my Spanish, and my teacher was great. The “Madrid the City” class taught me all about the history of the city, and we took tours around the city twice a week, which were a great way to explore.
IES offers homestays or apartments to students for housing. I stayed in a homestay. My Spanish improved so much from my homestay, and it was a great experience. I had lunch with my host mom most days, which allowed me to practice speaking in Spanish. I felt very comfortable with my homestay, and my host mom made it feel like a second home. On the last day, she told me if I return to Madrid in the future, I would have a place to stay.
The IES program includes many different activities and trips that allow you to further explore Spain and its culture. I took advantage of all of these activities, including a cooking class, a flamenco dance class and tours of the Palacio Real, the Prado museum, and various other places. In addition, we all went on a three-day trip to Valencia and a day trip to Segovia. Both trips were amazing.
I definitely recommend this program to other students. It is a great way to learn a new language and experience a new culture. I was nervous at first and almost didn’t do this program. So my advice is for any student unsure about studying abroad with IES Madrid to definitely just go because it will be an unforgettable six weeks.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Social Life

    10

The best six weeks of my life

IES Abroad’s Madrid Summer program is a Spanish-immersion study abroad program. Students enroll in two classes (all of them are taught in Spanish): one Spanish conversation course, and one area studies course. In addition to academics, IES sets up many other activities for their students, including trips to other parts of Spain, cooking classes, flamenco lessons, and activities with local Spanish students exploring the beautiful city of Madrid. Students can choose from a couple of housing options, which include homestays with local Spaniards or more independent apartment living. This program has so many options, from the classes you take, to your housing preferences, to the activities and trips set up by IES; there truly is something for everybody! I was continually impressed with how helpful, friendly, and enjoyable the professors and staff were at IES. IES does a great job of setting up this program, and they account for everything, right down to the little details.

There are so many quotes and sayings out there about how the best things in life happen outside of your comfort zone. After boarding a plane for an 8-hour flight, trekking my way through an unfamiliar airport, and jumping headfirst into a new culture and lifestyle, I can definitely say that this is true. Although I was nervous about going abroad at first, I had such a wonderful time in Madrid that the city now feels like home to me, and it was difficult to leave on my last day! My experience truly was one of the best times of my life. I lived in an amazing homestay, learned so many new things about Spanish language, culture, and life, and was able to travel around almost all of the beautiful country of Spain with new friends I made on the program. I had such a great time, and look back on my time spent in Madrid with such happiness. In fact, I think about my study abroad experience everyday! What I wouldn’t give to be back in Madrid, enjoying the pace of Spanish life and all of the little details about the beautiful country that I was fortunate enough to live and learn in for six weeks. I have made new friendships, seen new places, and made new memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Social Life

    9

Madrid, una ciudad magnífica

The Spanish have a saying “vivir para trabajar, no trabajar para vivir.” Loosely translated this phrase means “live to work, don’t work to live.” In other words, enjoy what you do with your life and make sure it makes you happy; don’t do something just because you have to. During my visit to Spain in the summer of 2014, I found that this statement embodies the Spanish culture, and the IES Abroad Madrid Summer program truly gave me the opportunity to live it.

Having lived in the United States all my life, I did not have too many international experiences under my belt before this trip to Madrid. I chose to study abroad so that I could be immersed in the Spanish language and culture, and it was definitely one of the best decisions of my entire life.

IES Abroad Madrid Summer is a 6-week-long program centered in Madrid, Spain. The program allows for complete language immersion, as all my classes were in Spanish and, since I was with a host family, I could only communicate with them in their native language. Everyone took two classes: a grammar class and an elective. My elective was Madrid The City, which basically just gave the class an excuse to travel around Madrid and learn the history. By the end of the program, I really felt like I knew the city well.

The program offered many activities throughout the week within the city. We had museum visits and walking tours, flamenco dancing lessons and cooking demonstrations, debate sessions and excursions with native students.

Over the course of the program, we also got to travel around Spain. With IES Abroad, we went to Segovia, Valencia, Cordoba, and the Madrid mountains. We had enough downtime as well so that I took a trip of my own to Barcelona with friends I’d made in the program.

As much as I enjoyed experiencing the city, the country, the culture, and the language, some of my favorite memories are a result of the people I met. All of the IES Abroad staff and teachers were incredible and helpful. My host family was so nice and made delicious food. I made many friends who were fellow students in the program. Overall, I always felt very comfortable and happy during my stay.

I learned and experienced so much and gained so much confidence from my time in Madrid. IES Abroad truly has an amazing program, and I would highly recommend the program to any prospective Spanish study abroad student.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    7

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

An Excellent Way to Experience Madrid

For the IES Madrid Summer program, you are required to take one grammar and conversation class, and one elective. The grammar class is great for brushing up on how Spaniards speak vs. what you may have learned in class. For my elective class I took an Art History course that met in the Prado three days a week. How often do you get to learn about famous paintings while standing right in front of them?! All of the staff is so warm and welcoming, too. My professors and the directors of the IES Center were funny and outgoing, and made a point of getting to know every student to help them improve their Spanish, which I hope to use in the professional world when I graduate. I would have liked if the IES Center/classes were a bit more centralized on the Universidad Complutense campus. It isn’t a long walk to get over to where more Spanish students are taking classes, but it was more isolated than I would’ve hoped.
Deciding to study over the summer was a great idea because the academics were relaxed and the Spanish students were not busy with schoolwork and were more available to show us the city. Be sure to bring clothes for all weather, though. The temperature fluctuates a lot between May and June. The program is short, only about 2 months, but that means that all of the students on the program are really trying to make the most of everything. Everyone tries to go on every trip (there are two organized by IES) and takes advantage of every opportunity (free additional cooking classes, flamenco classes, guided tours of the Palacio Real, etc.). IES also organizes tons of activities with Spanish students at the university so that you really get to immerse yourself in the Madrid culture. You get to know all of the other students so quickly, and because the program is only two months, you’ll start planning visits to see each other during the academic year immediately.
One of my favorite parts of this program was the homestay experience. My host mom—or señora—was an incredible woman who cooked me amazing meals and made me laugh every day. IES does a great job of matching you up with a señora whose English abilities match your Spanish abilities. So, another girl on my program didn’t speak a lot of Spanish, so her host mom spoke a bit of English in case they got into any communicative confusion. My Spanish skills were much higher, and my señora didn’t speak a word of English! I did some of my best learning over long dinner conversations, and we still keep in touch via email. That’s not say that it wasn’t an awkward or even scary transition to living with someone else in a completely different country. It can be hard to get used to following your señora’s rules and customs, but once you do it becomes routine and you just enjoy the immersive experience and learn to laugh at the times that you can’t understand one another.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Social Life

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Academics

    7

Study Abroad

My experience was unforgettable and amazing.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

Study Abroad While You Can!

I'm a rising senior in college and I'm so glad to have had this experience before it was too late. IES ABroad Madrid is an excellent program that I highly recommend to anyone who wants to be immersed in the Spanish culture while improving his or her speaking abilities.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

Study Abroad To Improve Spanish

Studying abroad was definitely a great way to improve my Spanish in a way I wouldn't have been able to if I was just studying it in the States. Loving here allowed me to learn about the people and the culture as well which I have always been interested in so it was overall a great experience.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    7

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

IES Madrid Summer

If you come, stay in a homestay! They are the best because you get fully immersed in the culture. It is a great way to practice Spanish and have a great food. The best class to take is Madrid the city because then you really get to know the city.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

The Most Amazing Experience

This was by far was the most amazing experience of my life. I have learned so much not only about the Spanish culture but also about myself. IES Abroad did an excellent job of integrating students into the culture.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

Madrid Summer

If you take every opportunity to immerse yourself in Spanish culture, you will get so much out of this trip and have an incredible summer!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

The Biggest Risk I've Taken That Was Totally Worth It.

My experience in Madrid has been absolutely amazing and I'm so glad I pushed myself to study abroad. Not only I'm learning Spain with great new friends and more confidence as a Spanish speaker, but also with a greater sense of self and experience that will positively impact me for the rest of my life. I think everyone should study abroad if they are able and cultural immersion with a homestay is definitely the way to go.

Overall Rating

8/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Cultural Immersion

    7

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    N/A

  • Social Life

    N/A

IES Madrid Summer Program - Excellent

I loved my summer study abroad experience with IES Madrid. The staff was incredibly considerate with us - The administrator of the program came to my apartment and stayed while a technician looked at my laptop. A staff member even carried my friend down the street to a cab when she sprained her ankle. Also, all the teachers and secretaries were eager to share travel tips.

I had an apartment; which did lessen my immersion experience. I'll do a homestay next time. As I'm not into parties I didn't get into that scene, but Madrid can definetely provide nightlife. Most 'madrileno' nightlife centers around tapas or bars, with not much dancing in clubs as in America; but there are clubs like Kapital that cater to Americans.

My courses were taught by good teachers. My grammar teacher knew the slightest nuances, and my Art in the Prado teacher was incredibly patient in relaying beautiful insights to us native-English speakers.

IES Madrid is such an enriching program. I'd study with them again in a heartbeat.

Overall Rating

7/ 10

  • Social Life

    7

  • Health and Safety

    7

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    7

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Academics

    7

Lots of Fun!

It's a lot of fun and the administration is great, but you do not get to meet people from Spain, unless you want to spend extra time.