IES Abroad Madrid - Language & Area Studies

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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.

Questions & Answers

Reviews

96%
based on 56 reviews
  • Academics 7.4
  • Support 9.5
  • Fun 9.4
  • Housing 9.4
  • Safety 9.6
Showing 31 - 45 of 56
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Sarah
10/10

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!

Yes, I recommend
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Caitlin
10/10

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.

How can this program be improved?
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.
Yes, I recommend
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Brendan
10/10

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.

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

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.

How can this program be improved?
Maybe home stays could be closer to the school.
Yes, I recommend
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Sarah
9/10

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.

Yes, I recommend
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Jake
9/10

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.

Yes, I recommend
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Claire
10/10

¡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.

How can this program be improved?
I wish the program had a break in the middle for traveling.
Yes, I recommend
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Lauren
10/10

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.

Yes, I recommend
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Claudia
10/10

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.

How can this program be improved?
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.
Yes, I recommend
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Krishna
9/10

An Experience of a Lifetime

This was truly one of the greatest semesters of my life. Being in a city so full of culture and livelihood led to an adventure every single day. There was never a dull moment in Madrid. I stayed with an incredible host family who really made me feel welcome and helped me gain a better hold on the Spanish language. The classes through IES were also very informative in terms of learning more about the Spanish culture, however they could have been more challenging for the students. I also really enjoyed that there were no classes on Friday, which gave students ample time to travel. IES also gave students multiple travel opportunities with the program to various locations in Spain that were all very interesting. I would definitely recommend this program to anyone who would like to learn Spanish in a lively and vibrant city like Madrid!

How can this program be improved?
I would have liked the classes to be more structured and challenging.
Yes, I recommend
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Lauren
10/10

A Semester to Remember

Going abroad was an amazing experience that I would not trade for the world. I was incredibly lucky to have chosen the wonderful program that I did through IES Abroad. The staff were so friendly and nice and I made so many friends that I know I will keep for many years to come. I explored a new city and now better understand the Spanish culture.

Yes, I recommend
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Andy
10/10

My time abroad with IES

My daily life included waking up, eating breakfast with my host mom and then going to class at the program center. After class, I would return home and eat dinner and then go to my internship for work.

It was difficult getting adjusted to the Spanish schedule and culture, which is very different from America's, but after a couple of weeks, I felt right at home. The food is delicious, and Spanish people are so friendly.

On the weekends, I would typically travel to other cities, or spend the day exploring different parts of the city

How can this program be improved?
I think it was too short. Other programs were longer. Also, 9:30am classes every day weren't too great.
Yes, I recommend
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Thomas
10/10

Great Program Lots of Options

The IES abroad program gives each student complete flexibility to make the experience exactly what they are looking for. Students have the option to take relatively small amounts of class and explore Madrid on their own, or they could take on a full Spaniards course load taking classes at the Complutense. While 9am grammar class is rough when returning from the clubs, professors can be very understanding on Friday mornings. For housing students are given the option for dorm style life if students are comfortable making friends in Spanish, this proved to be a great option, another big plus about the dorm is that it is a 3 minute walk from your room to class. The homestays as always are very hit or miss especially with distance to class. Some homestays are on the outskirts of Madrid and can make cab rides expensive and long commutes to class in the morning. The program is truly what you make of it and provides opportunities for everyone.

How can this program be improved?
Help for home stay and apartment students to become friends in a natural setting with spaniards.
Yes, I recommend
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Paige
9/10

IES Abroad Madrid Language and Area Studies

Overall, I really enjoyed my experience. IES center staff were helpful and easily accessible, and the center was close to both my homestay, downtown, and the Universidad Complutense. The city has great public transportation, and is also easily walkable. The IES center facilitated great outside activities with Spanish students as well as several field trips included in the program cost with other IES students. I visited Bilbao, San Sebastian, Segovia, and Toledo with the IES program. For students hoping to take a class at the Complutense I would recommend that they begin searching before the semester begins and that they maintain close contact with the academic staff at IES as it's sometimes tricky to facilitate. I had an internship with a Spanish nonprofit that IES helped facilitate--it turned out great! I worked as a translator between Spanish and English. Madrid has a bunch of daytime cultural attractions (art museums, historical sites etc) as well as a really vibrant nightlife, though beware, the metro closes at 1:30 AM. I quite enjoyed my IES classes, even though they were less rigorous than what I was used to at my home school--my grammar class was especially good for teaching me "native-like" grammar and expressions. The classes, since the workload was less than I was used to, also allowed me to travel on several weekends, which was an added bonus.

How can this program be improved?
I would have appreciated slightly more rigorous classes, and especially a smoother experience with classes at the Complutense.
Yes, I recommend
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Nina
10/10

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 welcomes 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 a 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, a new cafe, or a new viewpoint of the city 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 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 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 traveling 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 see all it has to offer. I am lucky to have the opportunity to speak on behalf of IES and share my experience with other and try to promote this incredible prospect. It is not goodbye, it is see you later, Madrid. I will be back.

How can this program be improved?
The only objection I would have to the scheduling of the program is giving students an additional 2-3 days after finals are over to have time to pack and say their goodbyes. I had to leave the day after my last final and felt rushed and pressed for time.
Yes, I recommend

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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...