IES Abroad Madrid – Language & Area Studies

Video and Photos

Brie at Parque Retiro
Brie at Parque Retiro
Palacio de Cristal en el Parque del Retiro
Palacio de Cristal en el Parque del Retiro
All was well in Park Güell.
All was well in Park Güell.
Parque del Retiro
Parque del Retiro
Arch of Moncloa
Arch of Moncloa
Chillin' with Don Quijote

About

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.

Scholarships

IES Abroad Scholarships
IES Abroad Scholarships and Financial Aid

As far as we're concerned, financial limitations shouldn't prevent you from studying abroad with us. That's why we offer more than $5 million in scholarships and aid.

Value
$500 - $5,000

Questions & Answers

Reviews

96%
based on 62 reviews
  • Academics 7.5
  • Support 9.5
  • Fun 9.4
  • Housing 9.4
  • Safety 9.6
Showing 31 - 45 of 62
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Clara
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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!

What would you improve about this program?
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.
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Haley
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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!

What would you improve about this program?
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.
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Adam
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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.

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Janey
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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!

What would you improve about this program?
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.
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Sofia
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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.

What would you improve about this program?
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.
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Maggie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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.

What would you improve about this program?
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.
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Sarah
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Semester in Spain!

I definitely recommend studying abroad to anyone who has the chance - my semester in Madrid was the best time of my life. IES Madrid is an amazing program, providing so many opportunities to meet new people (both American and Spanish!), immerse yourself in the culture (with weekend and day trips to other cities and activities to get to know Madrid better!), and improve your Spanish (living with a host family, taking classes in Spanish, and interacting with the wonderful professors and staff!)
Such an incredible experience!

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Caitlin
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A Life-Changing Semester

My experience abroad was extremely worthwhile. Not only did I greatly improve my Spanish speaking abilities, make new American and foreign friends, and explore all over Spain and Europe, but I also grew a lot as a person. Mainly, I experienced a new level of independence traveling in foreign countries by myself, and gained a fresh perspective on the US and also found a love for Spanish art!

I lived with a wonderful host mom and another American student. This experience, I think, is the best way to get immersed in the Spanish culture. She spoke to my roommate and I exclusively in Spanish and helped our language capabilities immensely. I learned a lot about Spain and the culture through our conversations, and got to know a network of other Spaniards through meeting her neighbors and extended family. My roommate and I each had our own bedrooms and had a separate bathroom, and the apartment was always extremely clean. I was in a safe neighborhood, very close to a lot of restaurants and shops and walking distance to school.

I will admit, I was a little nervous about having my food needs met in Spain as a vegetarian. However, my host mom was very accommodating to my food restrictions and still made me traditional Spanish dishes, just often substituting meat or fish with eggs or beans. She also let us use her kitchen to make dinners at night, and often let us eat leftovers from lunch for dinner.

As for the classes,they are fairly easy in comparison to the coursework I am accustomed to at my home university. That being said, the professors are knowledgeable in their subjects and very understanding about speaking clearly (and repeating things) in Spanish and about accommodating students. The art classes in particular are fantastic, as they take place in the Prado and Reina Sofia museums and you learn about the art as you look at it!

One thing that really stood out to me about this particular program is that the staff at IES Madrid is incredible. They are all extremely friendly and eager to get to know each student as a person- they had all of our names memorized day 1! They work very hard to get everyone matched into classes they want. I was on the waitlist for 4 out of the 5 classes I ended up taking- they got me into every class I wanted. They also put a lot of effort into extracurricular activities and program-lead trips to places that a typical abroad student might not know to visit. Overall, I cannot recommend IES Abroad Madrid- Language and Area Studies program enough.

What would you improve about this program?
If I could change one thing, I would have to say that I wish more Spanish was spoken among the other American students on my program. This program is not as rigorous as say, the Middlebury abroad programs in relation to learning the language. I wish more emphasis was put on speaking solely in Spanish.
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Brendan
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best semester ever

The biggest strength of this program the opportunities for immersion it provides. Through IES, I lived with an older Spanish couple who didn't speak any English. I interned with a non-profit educational group, and tutored high school students. Through these I was forced day in and day out to speak Spanish, and I left the country feeling very confident in everyday conversation. IES also offers the opportunity to take classes at UCM (the local university) with Spanish students, something I unfortunately was unable to do.

The social scene in Madrid makes it impossible to be bored. Clubs stay packed on weekends until 6am. Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid soccer tickets can be purchased relatively cheap (as long as you're ok with nosebleed seats). Students get in most museums for free, and beautiful parks are all over the city. Just about every distinct dish found around Spain can be found in Madrid because of its central location.

What would you improve about this program?
It can be difficult to fit in an internship, IES courses, and UCM courses into your schedule (though it is possible).
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Divya
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing Experience!

Studying abroad in Madrid through IES provided me with a multi-dimensional understanding of the city and country. The staff was so supportive in making sure that students had a plethora of options to do whatever interested them. For example, I was given a guitar sot hat I could continue practicing at my home stay. The field trips through the program were incredibly informative and gave us a deeper understanding of the history of Spain. My homestay family truly feels like my second family, and I miss them dearly.

I really would recommend IES Madrid because the strong staff really are the backbone of the program. The program allowed me to feel a sense of security and provided me with the confidence to travel through Europe independently.

What would you improve about this program?
Maybe home stays could be closer to the school.
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Sarah
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

IES Abroad Madrid

IES Abroad's Madrid Language and Area Studies' program provided me with a full and cohesive abroad experience. I was able to do everything I wanted to; live with a host family, interact and make friends with Spaniards and with people from all over the United States, take classes through the local university and really experience city life in Madrid.

IES's Madrid program is very integrated with the Universidad Complutense and makes it very easy to take classes through the different schools at the university. Unfortunately, the IES schedule and the university schedule don't sync up exactly for the fall, but I was still able to take the class I wanted to (Screenwriting) at the Universidad Complutense and move my final exam earlier.

IES Madrid also offers many great classes of their own, including an art history class taught at the Museo del Prado which in itself made the program worthwhile to me. It was an unbelievable class which exposed me to art in a way I had never experienced before. I know because of that class, I will have an appreciation for classic paintings for the rest of my life.

IES Madrid has a great team. The staff are wonderful; they make themselves very available during the school day to answer questions about activities or help fix problems. They also do a fairly good job of encouraging speaking Spanish as much as possible, although there is still a fair amount of English spoken as well. IES was not as strict about total language immersion as I was expecting going in, but I still found my Spanish make huge strides. I now feel confidently fluent, and can hold an intelligent conversation behind "I thought that was good." However, I would have appreciated more of an effort on the part of the teachers and the students to put more emphasis speaking only Spanish at the center.

One of the most wonderful things about IES Madrid is the opportunity to live in such an amazing city. The program does a good job offering outside classes and tours to expose you to the city, especially right off the bat, helping you get out and about while you develop confidence navigating Madrid. It's a gorgeous city to live in and explore. There is always something going on if you look for it and it is impossible to be bored.

Studying abroad is an invaluable experience. I learned so much about myself during my four months in Madrid with IES and I know when the time came for me to leave, I wasn't ready to go.

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Jake
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

What a semester

Although the standard response to the question "How was your semester abroad?" is that it was amazing, unforgettable, best experience of my life, etc, in my case it is indubitably true. I lived in a residence hall which allowed me to meet local and Latin American students. The night life is amazing as is the food. The actual courses, however, were not very challenging or stimulating, which isn't a bad thing as it opened up more time to explore Spain. Overall, a fantastic program.

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Claire
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

¡Que Divertido!

Going abroad to Madrid with IES was a great experience. The staff is extremely professional and truly cares that each student has a good experience. The classes are excellent as they are all taught by professors from the Universidad Compultense de Madrid, the best university in Madrid. My favorite was definitely Velázquez, Goya and El Greco at the Prado Museum as each class took place at the world-renowned Prado Museum and the class was taught by a curator from the museum. I lived with a host family in Madrid. While I was initially very nervous about it, it ended up to be one of my best decisions while abroad as it allowed me to be fully immersed in the culture and to practice my Spanish. There are no classes on Friday which allow students to have an opportunity to travel both in and around Spain and throughout Europe. Additionally, IES offers field trips every weekend in Madrid to sites such as the Royal Palace or the Botanical Gardens or to nearby cities such as Toledo and Segovia. Another benefit of the program is its size. I went in the fall of 2014 and there were 50 students. This allowed everyone to know each other, but it never felt too small. Overall, I would highly recommend going abroad to Madrid with IES to any motivated student looking to study abroad in a cosmopolitan city in a Spanish speaking country.

What would you improve about this program?
I wish the program had a break in the middle for traveling.
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Lauren
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

the best city in spain

I am extremely happy that I chose IES Madrid for my semester overseas. The staff was organized and knew everyone's names and also the name's of our host moms and where we lived. I was able to travel all over Spain while still maintaining a rigorous academic course load. After seeing the other cities of Spain, I can proudly call Madrid home and the best city I have lived in. The public transportation is so easy to use and efficient, the night life is incredible and the students are all willing to practice their English with you and open to learning about American culture. I found that the fastest and best way to improve my Spanish was just to speak to others, even the other American students. The city has so much to do and IES provides trips and activities that are easy to partake in. Everything is well organized and everyone in the program is supportive without being too overbearing. I highly recommend IES Madrid to anyone.

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Claudia
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best Decision I Ever Made

I highly recommend studying abroad with IES Madrid. The staff was unbelievably helpful and supportive and they truly made IES feel like a family. I was placed with an incredible host family which definitely had a huge impact on my immersion. Overall, the program was amazing in every way.

What would you improve about this program?
One thing I would improve is to have more variety in classes offered because unfortunately, I was unable to receive credit towards my major. Other than that, I have nothing but good things to say about IES Madrid.