IES Abroad Madrid - Language & Area Studies
96% Rating
(56 Reviews)

IES Abroad Madrid - Language & Area Studies

Our program is designed for students who want to experience the vitality of Spain and the large urban university environment of the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM), one of the country’s most distinguished universities.

Our Center is located on the UCM campus, and this program strives to immerse you in the culture of the Madrileños through its academic options, extracurricular activities with university students, and housing choices. Several field trips take you beyond the city limits to sites of historic and contemporary interest.

Program Type
Subject Areas
Art History
International Business
Theater, Drama and Dance
Women's Studies
Degree Level
Academic Year
Host Family
Online Application
Official Transcripts
Age Requirement
Language Requirement
GPA Requirement
Health Requirement
Price Details
Contact IES Abroad or see website for details:

Questions & Answers

Program Reviews

based on 56 reviews
  • Academics 7.4
  • Support 9.5
  • Fun 9.4
  • Housing 9.4
  • Safety 9.6
Showing 16 - 30 of 56
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My Time in Madrid

My four months in Spain were filled with great experiences that are so hard to summarize in just a paragraph. The moment I arrived to the airport everything was so quiet (it was 6am), I was scared, but yet excited to see what was behind the airport doors. Once I picked up all my luggage and walked out, I was greeted by the program directors who explained what I had to do next. The first week of the program consisted of an intense orientation, where I was able to get to know everyone else in the program, meet professors, tour Madrid and visits their awesome museums. I lived with a Senora, her son, and my best friend from my home school. I have to say, I believe living with a Senora made me feel more like a spaniard. During lunchtime I was able to conversant with my Senora and learn more about Madrid and their culture. For classes I recommend taking the theater course IES offers. I never thought I would enjoy it, but it was my favorite class throughout the semester. IES does not have classes on Friday which gives you time travel to different countries! Traveling is super cheap in Europe and I recommend taking advantage of it! However, be sure to keep a balance between exploring Europe and exploring Madrid. Enjoy every second you have in Madrid and remember to take a lot of pictures!

Yes, I recommend
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Experiencing Madrid

After this past semester abroad, I can say with confidence that studying abroad is something I recommend everyone does. I was able to improve my Spanish, learn about a new culture, and get to know new people from Spain as well as from other universities in the United States.

One of my favorite things about my program was the ability to live with a host family. This was something I was extremely nervous about going into my program, but ended up being one of my best experiences in Spain. Living with a Spanish family helped me grow confident in my Spanish-speaking abilities and really taught me a lot about the Spanish people.

Through the IES program I was able to learn about the history and magic of Madrid. The program offered many opportunities to be active in the community, visit the most famous sites and interact with the Spanish people. Some of my favorite memories from my trip were the IES lead trips to Granada, as well as the tour of the Prado Museum, where I got to view many of the famous Spanish paintings I had learned about previously.

I loved my time abroad and learned that in order to get the most out of my time in Spain I needed to take advantage of all the cool and interesting opportunities my program offered.

Yes, I recommend
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Best four months of my life

IES Abroad helped make my study abroad experience the time of my life! From the moment we arrived in the airport the program directors were there to help us transition. The first week of the program was an intensive orientation, where we met everyone else in the program, toured the city and museums, and had initial Spanish classes.
After I adjusted to living in the city and classes started, time flew by! I lived with a Senora and another girl from my program. Our conversations over meals dramatically improved my Spanish and it was nice to have a local to ask advice about travel, restaurants, etc. I highly recommend taking the art history class in the Prado Museum, it was my favorite course by far and I will always remember what I learned about Spanish artists. Overall the classes were much easier than I was used to, but I didn’t want to spend all my time studying so it was a welcome change.
There are no IES classes on Fridays so three day weekends allow plenty of time to travel. I suggest finding a balance between traveling and staying in Madrid, because there is so much to explore and discover in Madrid. All the museums, shopping, parks, and restaurants fill the city with life and energy and culture that I miss every single day. Study abroad is an incredible experience, I cannot recommend it enough!

Yes, I recommend
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Parks and Culture

I really enjoyed my time in Madrid! I personally enjoy spending time outside. Because of this, I spent a lot of time in the parks around the city. This was by far my favorite part of the experience, walking around the city to explore the parks and relax! Sometimes I would spend 3 or 4 days a week at various parks doing homework, walking and just enjoying the environment! Madrid also has so many museums, plazas and culture to take part in and enjoy!

I lived in a home stay for my semester abroad. I was with a single mother and her two daughters during this time. I was very satisfied with the interaction between the family members and also the meals that were prepared for me with dessert and everything.

The one area that maybe could have used a little improvement was the administration system at the school. The IES program partnered with a local university and used some of the extra space at this university for classes. But since the school and IES weren't one in the same entity, there sometimes was miscommunication between the two that led to certain issues. Things such as a lack of access to rooms that students were expected to have access to and lack of support for the IES program teachers because they weren't technically professors of the school. I felt the instructors often did the best they could with what they had but were limited by this situation.

Overall, given the opportunity, I would love to do this over again if I could and would recommend it for those looking to improve their Spanish and experience the culture first hand as well.

How can this program be improved?

The administration of the program should work to be more interconnected with the administration of the local university.

Yes, I recommend
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Marvelous Madrid

Studying abroad in Madrid was the greatest experience of my life. Although that may sound pretty cliché, it is completely true. The opportunities I had to become fully immersed in the culture while I was abroad were truly incredible. I will never forget my time abroad!

My host family welcomed me with open arms. Of course I was a little nervous to meet them and live with them for four months, but they were the most loving family I ever met. We had family dinners every night and my Spanish improved tremendously! I got to live with a mother, a father, and two kids who were 7 and 10 years old. They were absolutely adorable and I loved playing with them! They always made me smile and asked me how my day was. I felt really connected to them and the entire family.

The city of Madrid is just absolutely beautiful. It’s clean, the people are nice, and there is so much culture on every street. My walk to class would consist of passing by tons of restaurants, markets, and even parks. I went on excursions with the program to different parts of Spain, took a class in the Prado museum, spent my weekends in Retiro Park, and even went to a Real Madrid soccer game! These were only some of the amazing opportunities I had while I was in Spain.

As a Spanish Education major, my Spanish improved so much with my time in Spain. Talking with locals, ordering at a restaurant, bargaining a price for a purse, and talking with my host family: these are just a few of the things I would do to improve my Spanish. Learning Spanish in a classroom is great, but getting the opportunity to fully delve into the culture and be with true native Spanish speakers is the best teaching tool of all.

How can this program be improved?

I would recommend that the professors of the classes become more aware and trained to teach students who are not native Spanish speakers and who are in a different environment. At times it was hard to take in the new culture and experiences on top of the homework I would have and work I would be asked to do.

Yes, I recommend
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I had an experience I will never forget in Madrid thanks to IES. They were very organized and helped me throughout my entire pre departure process. I did not apply for a visa through IES, and when I ran into problems the staff was very helpful in solving the problem.

Once I arrived, it did not take me long to feel at home. I had the most wonderful host family, and the staff helped us acclimate. The weekend excursions, and extracurriculars that I participated in were especially fun and marked my experience. I would recommend getting involved in all the activities that IES offers such as cooking classes, dance lessons, and exchange groups where you meet with Spanish students.

As for the classes, I enjoyed some of them and some were fairly bland. I did expect this being abroad, and overall did not feel like I was wasting my time despite the course load because it helped me improve my Spanish. I would recommend taking the Art History class at the Prado it was an unforgettable experience.

My living situation was perfect, the food was delicious, and the people on the program were amazing. My only complaint would be the Spanish connections to the community. I felt that it was not the easiest to connect with Spaniards organically, you had to search for opportunities such as going to intercambio bars to truly feel connected. Overall it was a semester I will never forget and I would highly recommend this program to anyone considering it!

How can this program be improved?

I would institute a more strict agreement of speaking in Spanish at the center. It is hard to change a culture once an English speaking culture has started. While we would speak in Spanish in our classes, outside class we would lapse into English a great deal.

Yes, I recommend
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My Time in Madrid

This was an incredible program that offered multiple opportunities to get involved!!! It was because of my time in Madrid I have become the person I am today.
Being abroad can help you become a more confident and knowledgeable person, but a key aspect of this is having a supportive program that keeps you safe while giving you enough room to grow. The staff at IES Abroad succeeded in doing this. It also helped foster positive relationships between everyone (locals and other Americans) while keeping it all-Spanish, which is key in developing confidence in speaking another language.
IES Abroad –Madrid was an incredible program, and I would be happy to recommend it to anyone.

How can this program be improved?

I wish that they would have provided a host family rather than a Seniora. My host mom was lovely, but I feel that when I applied to live with a host family, I was expecting a family rather than just one person.

Yes, I recommend
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Wonderful Madrid

I had a fabulous experience studying abroad in Madrid with IES. I greatly improved my ability to speak Spanish through not only the courses that I took, but the other opportunities that the program offered such as being a teaching assistant and going on excursions with local students. In addition to this, I had an excellent home stay where I got to experience local cuisine as well as really get a feel for what life is like for someone living in Madrid. I felt that I was given ample opportunities to explore not only Madrid, but also parts of Spain with IES.

How can this program be improved?

I took a class at the local Spanish university, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, and I just wish that there had been a better orientation for this, and I wish the matriculation process had been smoother.

Yes, I recommend
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Go Study Abroad! Do It!

I fell head over heels IN LOVE with Madrid, Spain! The culture, the people, the city, the food, the language, everything! I wouldn't trade my experience for anything. It was more than I could have ever asked for!

The program specifically was phenomenal. The classes were intriguing and challenging while also making the information very real and relatable to us. We were able to take a class at the local university called La Universidad Complutense Madrid (UCM). There we were in a class completely with local Spanish students, so it was a lot of fun to talk and meet new people while also learning about a subject.

As far as my living situation, I stayed in a homestay with a family and I absolutely loved it! The family was so loving, and the kids were just adorable! Not to mention, my host mom could make some mean fish! She is such a cook!

The program took us on many side trips within Spain such as Bilbao, Asturias, and Toledo which gave us the opportunity to experience the various cultures of the different regions within Spain. Even within Madrid, there was so much to experience there. The city was always moving and going! You would wake up in the morning and go to class, and then have a comida and a siesta around 2:30pm. From there you could visit parks like Retiro, walk down some beautiful streets or visit a museum. The night would roll in and you could eat dinner in a restaurant with friends and continue the night as you enjoyed the fun atmosphere of Madrid's nightlife. Eventually, you would go home and wake up the next morning so that you could do it all over again.

If someone offered e another chance to go back, I would take that opportunity in a heart beat, for I believe that I left a large part of my heart back in Spain.

How can this program be improved?

I wouldn't change a thing about the program, except to extend my stay in the program!

Yes, I recommend
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The best semester you will ever have in college!

As a student majoring in Spanish and International Relations, studying in Madrid was a like a capstone to my undergraduate studies. In Madrid, everything that I had spent semesters studying at my home university came to life as I spent my free time traveling around Europe; it was nothing short of magical.

Studying abroad is both an exciting and anxiety-inducing experience, and I found that the staff at IES were always extremely accommodating with me at every point of my study abroad experience, from assisting me in the preparation of pre-departure documentation to supporting me in whatever situation arose while in Spain. What really set IES apart from other study abroad programs for me was how personal the experience was-- every administrator knew my name when I arrived and were constantly checking in to see how I was adapting. When you are living in a new country, these little gestures can make a world of a difference.

Academically, IES was very good at engaging students in Spanish culture. During my semester I had the opportunity to take classes at various art museums around Madrid, at local universities, take the DELE language certification exam and even participate in a part time internship for academic credit. Since most courses are taught at the IES Abroad Center, students have the support of a community of other US college students studying in Madrid, but are also encouraged to seek out friendships with Spanish students outside the IES community by living in Spanish dorms, taking a course at a local university and participating in language intercambios.

The program does a really good job of ensuring students experience all the wonderful things that Spanish culture has to offer by providing cooking and flamenco lessons, weekend excursions, and inviting students to dinners and performances around Madrid. Students have the option of living in a traditional homestay, an apartment with other US students or dorms with Spanish students. The choice is up to you, but can greatly influence your level of cultural and language immersion with dorms being the most social option and an apartment being much less immersive.

What makes IES so great is that every student is given the opportunity to make their study abroad experience fulfill both their unique needs and personal goals. Highly recommended for anyone considering studying in Spain!

How can this program be improved?

The one thing that I would have liked to change about my experience with IES is the homestay meal policy. Students who choose to live in a homestay versus a dorm or apartment must elect to either cook all their own meals or eat breakfast and one additional meal with the family. Sometimes this policy made me feel awkward in the home as I was unable to sit down and eat dinner with my family in the evenings if I had eaten lunch that day. My friends who had the same living arrangement shared my feelings. I have never heard of another program that has this policy and think that it is something that should be reconsidered for the future. In retrospect, had I known about this policy I probably would have chosen the dorms instead of a homestay.

Yes, I recommend
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Living life like a true Spaniard

I always knew I wanted to study abroad in Madrid, and I have to say it was one of the greatest decisions I have ever made. IES Abroad truly made my time in Spain such an enjoyable one, that I would tell everyone to go abroad through this program. The day I arrived, the IES faculty warmly greeted me, and to my surprise they all knew my name and some background information from where I came from. The faculty truly made an effort to help all students through the tough transition of arriving in a foreign country. IES provided historic tours, intercambios (student exchanges), cooking classes, and great excursions to help assimilate into Spanish culture. With the help of IES Abroad, I felt comfortable enough to explore the city of Madrid on the metro/other forms of public transportation; I embraced the famous siesta, tried some great tapas and even attended a few Real Madrid games! Additionally, IES Abroad Madrid made sure every student felt comfortable and safe and always made their offices open to answer any questions or concerns. It was apparent that a lot of work went into making this the best study abroad experience for all students. If I could do it all over again, I would definitely do it again with IES Abroad!

How can this program be improved?

When I arrived on the first day, I was extremely overwhelmed and exhausted. Unfortunately, there was a entire schedule of meetings with a ton of information about housing, classes, homestays, etc. I wish orientation would have been longer because many of the students got extremely stressed out with all the changes at once. So what could be improved is that the students stay at the hotel for at least an extra night so that it is an easier transition process for students coming abroad.

Yes, I recommend
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Take Me Back!

Writing about my experience makes me want to return to Madrid. Everyday in Madrid is different than the next, and I loved the city. I had a blast playing the “let’s get off at a random metro stop and walk around” game, and discovered a city completely ALIVE both day and night. Everyone I met was super helpful with improving my Spanish, and there are quite a number of fun museums and attractions to visit. It’s also easy to get from Madrid to anywhere else in Spain and, quite frankly, the rest of Europe if that’s your thing.

I must commend IES on their excursions. During my time we visited Bilbao, San Sebastián, Asturias, Toledo, Segovia, and a few local places around Madrid. I thought the trips were well organized and gave us the perfect amount of free time to ourselves.

IES staff are sincere people. I think they do a great job of ensuring your living situation is comfortable, and I always felt I could approach them. They personalized my experience and provided me with a homestay right in the center of Madrid, which I absolutely adored. My host mother was the best!

I had fantastic professors in IES, including a A+ grammar teacher and an employee of the Prado Museum of Art. Every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon, I would check-in at the Prado and we would walk around the museum analyzing paintings and artist styles while the paintings were right in front of us! What a unique experience.

I loved my time in Madrid, and am grateful to IES for their support and excitement about my growth.

Yes, I recommend
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Studay Abroad in Madrid with IES!

When I found IES Abroad Madrid-Language Area Studies; this program fit every tiny criterion I had. So without further thought I started the application process. From being accepted to applying for a student visa, my IES Abroad counselor, John Colhouer was extremely helpful in answering my most confusing to most simple questions I had. From the start I felt the IES Abroad staff was fully supportive and invested in me. As a jetted off to Madrid in the start of January, I was welcomed by Spanish students and assisted to the hotel where orientation began. The IES Madrid Abroad staff was very helpful from the beginning. They had a true interest in each student and wanted to make sure each student succeeded. While abroad I lived with a host mother; she has three sons who had already left the house but we saw them frequently. I made sure to go on all the trips IES offered because on the trips I met more study abroad students in the program I hadn’t spoken to before and on each trip we had very good tour guides who knew the histories and past times of the regions. I also got involved in a one-on-one program set up by IES Abroad Madrid. I would meet up with a Spanish student once a week and we would speak 30min. in Spanish and 30min. in English. Throughout the semester Tamara and I became good friends and would hang out more frequently. IES Abroad Madrid-Language Area Studies is a focus on the culture and language of the region. Therefore, all of my classes were taught in Spanish by Spanish professors. At first it was challenging but as my language improved throughout the semester I noticed a change in the way I could take notes and complete assignments. I started only thinking about class in Spanish instead of trying to translate constantly. IES Abroad Madrid was the perfect program for me. I loved how many different activities were held for us and the opportunities were amazing. I recommend IES Abroad Madrid-Language Area Studies as a perfect abroad experience!

How can this program be improved?

I found this program to be an excellent fit but if I could change one thing, I would make the orientation more specific and the layout of the trips and programs offer were explained more thoroughly.

Yes, I recommend
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La Vida Madrileña

I would highly recommend this program to someone interested in studying abroad with the goal of immersing yourself in Spanish language and culture. The classes (which includes any homework and projects, exams, etc.) are all in Spanish, and you have a couple of choices for living options which is sometimes hard to find in other programs. I chose to live in the dorm with other local Spanish students, rather than a homestay or an apartment with other American students, and it was the best decision for me. I learned things from my Spanish and international peers that only a local would know about Madrid, and I got to practice my Spanish.

My highlights for this term abroad were:
-Participating in the cultural activities that the program offered once a month. This included everything from a cooking class, to Flamenco lessons, all at no extra cost.
-Being forced to really use my Spanish by the local staff and professors. It's very easy to avoid speaking Spanish and I can sometimes get away with speaking English during some classes at my home university, however, here you are required to speak Spanish and it was a challenge that improved my language ability.
- Madrid is just a great place to be. Nothing compares to the nightlife in the Spain's capital. The food, the culture, the "cafe con leche", is all just a wonderful thing to experience in this great metropolitan city.
- Another item that drew me to studying with IES was the opportunity to take classes at the local university. This was an eye-opening and unforgettable experience because it was both exciting and intimidating to learn that not all classrooms and universities function as those do in the States.

How can this program be improved?

I wish I had known more about my living option, specifically what the food would be like. I didn't think cafeteria food could be universally underwhelming and just not good, but even in Madrid this was the case for the dorm food. This was a hug letdown because you pay extra to live in the dorm, and technically all of your meals are included, but the food is not good and it's very limiting. Most of the time I ate out to avoid the cafeteria food, and of course it wasn't all bad, but disappointing and frustrating overall.

Yes, I recommend
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Thoughts and advice

Studying abroad is a difficult experience to transmit through a review. I don't feel I could ever give a complete picture of my time in Madrid through words but I can at least give advice about the IES program.

Definitely a program I would recommend to others. The IES directors/advisors are extremely helpful, accessible, and concerned with the well being of students. There were many included trips that students could go on to other cities in Spain...and they were amazing! There were a lot of mixed reviews on academics. Personally, I am a science major and was only taking general education requirements abroad. All of my classes were arts, history, and language and this made it difficult to always feel a real purpose/investment in class because they were all studies outside of my future career interest. However I did feel the material of almost all of them was always interesting and I was just happy to be practicing Spanish! (all classes are in Spanish. Some felt the classes were too easy but I was happy with the amount of work - enough to feel productive, but not so much that it inhibited experiencing Madrid and Europe.

Because all of the classes are in Spanish and I did a home stay my Spanish improved immensely. IES gives you many opportunities to become better at Spanish you just have to take them! I recommend home stay because I had such a positive experience. I know not everyone loved their family, but I loved my host mom and it allowed me to gain a better understanding of Spanish culture than any class ever could. I would recommend a home stay to everyone. Get out of your comfort zone and experience something completely different.

General Advice:
-Don't feel really pressured to travel. Some people went to a different country every weekend, others spent the majority of their time in Madrid. Do what you want! /Can afford! Either way you made it to Europe.
-You would rather under-pack than over-pack.
-If you do a home stay bring slippers. They are worn inside the house.
-Don't bring your phone to the club. They were often stolen out of zippered pockets in zippered bags.
-You'll improve your Spanish as much as you want to. If you really want to improve you can (home stay, intercambios, trying to not speak English), and if you don't care as much that's cool too!
-go to the Cercedilla mountains outside of Madrid - most memorable experience of my entire study abroad
-go to Porto, Portugal! And Tubingen, Germany. And Granada and Toledo.

How can this program be improved?

I wish there were more opportunities for meeting Spanish students and bonding within the IES group. It would be nice to have more activities where students could interact and get to know each other.

Yes, I recommend

About IES Abroad

IES Abroad offers 140 programs worldwide for college students. We are a highly charged force of study abroad enthusiasts. Every day we have the privilege of witnessing how study abroad changes our students’ lives. We also believe that every student...