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 46 - 56 of 56
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Anna
9/10

Supportive program, great academics, awesome trips

I loved my time in Madrid with IES! The program staff are incredible, excursions were fun and informative. Only critique: the "Spanish only" rule is not enforced that strongly. I think in a different program I would have improved my Spanish further, but I primarily talked in English with other IES students and therefore didn't speak as much Spanish. If you want a 100% Spanish-only experience, this program may not be for you. However, IES is great in that there is a support system there to guide you when you need, but you can also be totally independent if you want too. The opportunity to take classes at la Universidad Complutense was my main reason for choosing IES.

How can this program be improved?
A stronger enforcement on the Spanish only rule would improve the program.
Yes, I recommend
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Gabriel
10/10

LOVE IT

I LOVED MADRID!!!! BEST CITY IN THE WORLD AND THE PROGRAM STAFF IS THE BEST! the activities were great and everything was a blast. My host mom lived straight downtown and i was able to be my metro anywhere.

How can this program be improved?
I enjoyed it. immmm the activities were great as well
Yes, I recommend
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Ibrahim
10/10

IES Madrid

So the day would always come when I would have to formally relate my experience in Spain with IES, where I would have to put into words the significance of this adventure. Unfortunately, this is not that moment, as a written review is not befitting of the experience. I cannot say that it was a life-changing one—four months simply wasn't enough time. I will not say that it was the most fun that I have ever had. I can, and will say without reservation, that my semester abroad was the most important experience of my short life. Others may have fortunately had the opportunity to undertake a similar adventure, either domestically or internationally. Me, on the other hand, never. So the immensity of the situation cannot be understated, and IES was on hand to make sure that I got the most out of it. What I will always appreciate is just how much the staff was willing to help me take advantage of the opportunities Spain had to offer. And that often meant letting us explore on our own, and not be terribly forceful and hands on in their approach to programming. It all really helped me foster an invaluable sense of independence. I need to go back.

How can this program be improved?
I have no suggestions. No program is perfect, but I can't imagine what a perfect program would look like.
Yes, I recommend
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Molly
10/10

I want to go back!

IES abroad was one of the most formative experiences I have had as a young adult. The program itself is well organized and reputable. The staff has been with the program for many years and nothing comes to them as a surprise. They know how to make the program worthwhile and they are very sweet and helpful. Additionally, IES is very well connected within Madrid. For example, one of my classes was held at the Prado museum two days a week and taught by the coordinator of the Goya wing at the museum. Not only was he an amazing teacher, he was very well intentioned and cared about his students.

I was hesitant to choose homestay before I left for Madrid, but I am SO happy I did. I lived with a wonderful older woman and a roommate (we had separate rooms) and she ended up being like family to me. She had been in the program for many years and she was well acquainted with the social and travel life of study abroad students. Additionally, she lived in a very great part of Madrid that was residential, close to the school, and highly accessible to the rest of the city.

Just to give a day to day perspective of my experience, I would begin with my mandatory Spanish intensive course at 9am, which was surprisingly a blast and very helpful. I would have a break between classes and either go home or to the gym. I would go back to IES take my other courses and then return back to my homestay for comida. After comida, depending on my schedule I would either go to class at the Prado Museum or do odds and ends around the city. I would return home fairly late at about 7-8, and make myself a small dinner. (The midday meal is HUGE). Then I would either do homework or meet friends for food and drinks.

Another aspect I loved about IES was that it made travel very easy. I visited 22 towns and cities while I was abroad and I never felt overwhelmed. Additionally, the staff makes school fun. They are very Spanish in the way they approach schoolwork and social life and I wish Americans would be the same way.

I truly loved IES and my only complaint is that I wish I did it for a year. Finally! I think it's important to mention that IES was not the sponsored program at my college. I willingly declined the other program and had to petition in order to go on IES. I couldn't have been happier with my decision.

How can this program be improved?
I would have liked more international trips organized by IES, but the day trips they offer are fun. Additionally, I think they should be a little more lenient about luggage and day of departure, they are very rigid with the rules.
Yes, I recommend
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Isabel
9/10

Best semester of my life!

Madrid is truly an amazing city with fantastic nightlife, culture, parks and more! There is always something to do. And it is so easy to get anywhere else in Spain or to the rest of Europe from Madrid. IES was great with planning activities, such as visits to local sites, cooking classes and flamenco classes. They also have great field trips...the orientation trips are AMAZING. Academics are okay, but there is no Friday class which allowed for travel time on the weekends. Did not hear much negative feedback about living situations, everyone seemed to be happy where they were, whether it was a home stay, apartment, or dorm. I absolutely loved my home stay. Made life long friends and had the best semester of my life.

How can this program be improved?
Interaction with Spanish students
Yes, I recommend
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Andrea
8/10

An awesome experience!

The IES Abroad program definitely tried to immerse us into the culture of Spain and I really felt as if I was a student there, as opposed to just studying abroad. For the 5+ months that I was in Spain, I felt like I got a handle of what it was to live in Madrid and really understood the culture that surrounded it. IES Abroad did an excellent job in providing different activities and field trips in Spain that taught us more about the culture and really gave us some great memories to take back home. In addition, the classes that they provided were a great tool to learn about the history and culture of Spain and it was awesome to actually see it be lived as we traveled and learned more about Madrid.

Yes, I recommend
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Marlisa
10/10

Best Semester Ever!

IES Abroad was wonderful. The program staff was so helpful and was there every step of the way and made sure that I enjoyed my stay there. I had a wonderful host family and did a neuropsychology internship. It was a great experience and I learned a lot.

They also provide the opportunity to take classes at Complutense and that's a great opportunity to meet other locals and practice your Spanish while also experiencing actually being a part of the Spanish culture.

Madrid is such a great city because it is central so it is easy to get to other places in Spain and to other countries quickly. I definitely recommend this program.

Yes, I recommend
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Jack
10/10

Don't Ever Start a Sentence with "I Should Have..."

I studied abroad in Madrid through IES during the winter semester of my sophomore year. Before this, I had never been to Europe and I had never flown by myself. I was nervous and almost backed out at the last minute, but looking back I am so happy I went through with it. IES Madrid did a great job securing housing for me and helping its students get acclimated to the local culture. At times, I would complain that the staff refused to speak English, but now realize that immersion is the best way to learn a foreign language. The University of Michigan required me to take 2 classes at la Universidad de Complutense. Those were very difficult and boring, but the classes through IES were moderately easy and interactive. The classes were small and each professor was eager to learn about our weekend plans and happy to help us choose between attractions / places to visit. The campus is very easy to get to from the Metro and the Metro is very easy to use in Madrid. I still keep in touch with some of the people I met abroad. I'm only 24, but I consider this one of the best experiences of my life. I've never heard anybody say they regretted studying abroad. If you're considering it, do it. If you're thinking about studying abroad in Madrid, I'd highly recommend IES.

How can this program be improved?
A lot of American students only hung out with other Americans. Although this falls on each person, I would suggest that IES Madrid offer more opportunities for their students to interact with Spaniards.
Yes, I recommend
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espanaprim11
10/10

Live in the dorms

Madrid is the most awesome city ever and I can't say enough in favor of studying abroad there. I was very fortunate to live in a dorm at the Universidad Complutense with Spanish undergrads and international grad students -- all of whom speak Spanish nearly 100% of the time. I highly recommend doing that. Take advantage of the cultural activities that IES offers, particularly the class that meets inside El Museo del Prado, one of the world's best museums. In my experience IES participants were great people but they probably won't take the language pledge too seriously, so that is a drawback you have to work around. The IES staff is wonderful and you'll love each of them dearly. I did not find the IES classes that challenging except for the language class, which was top-notch (I still keep the textbook for reference). Nevertheless the point is more that you're learning in Spanish -- and if you self-direct a bit you'll learn a lot! It's a fascinating time to learn about the EU, the Euro and the European economy -- not to mention Spanish history. But of course the valuable things that you do studying abroad are the exploration that you need time to do (which homework would've taken away from) -- so good on IES for giving us free time. I think one of the other reviews mentioned how great Madrid is in terms of access to the rest of Spain and Europe and I want to second that -- it's definitely the easiest city to travel from on your weekends and vacations. I went to Mallorca, London, Paris and many places in Spanish Iberia, often visiting cities when they had a major fiesta such as Las Fallas, Carnaval or Semana Santa.

Living in a dorm allowed me to take full advantage of Madrid. I saved a huge amount of by time not having to take a subway commute. I took an art history class at the Complutense itself. I played soccer with the students in my dorm. I watched soccer with them too, and ate meals and partied and made friends. It was amazing. I was next to a beautiful park in which I could take runs in the evening past the Manzanares River, Goya's burial place and the Palacio Real. I spoke Spanish way more than most other IES students. I just can't say enough.

My tl;dr advice to a potential studier-abroad: YES, you do know enough Spanish so I don't even want to hear any more insecurity out of you. YES, Madrid is the best place to study in Spain.

How can this program be improved?
Discussed above.
Yes, I recommend
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Lorenzo
10/10

IES Madrid-An Adventure of a Lifetime

The IES Madrid program is an amazing adventure that incorporates a great academic program and a wonderful way to experience the Spanish culture at its best. Being a native Spanish speaker, the programs classes were not extremely challenging, but would include excellent elements such as going to a theater performance or a field trip excursion into the city. It was a great way to get to know the culture and the my surroundings better. In addition, the program offered weekend trips to different parts of Spain, which I would totally recommend if you are interested in getting to know your host country better and have a great time doing it. The bonds you form with many of your fellow study abroad classmates are strong and can last for a lifetime. Friendships you form with your host family and other Spaniards can be hard at first, but are worth the time and effort. To this day I keep in touch with my host family and carry fond memories of staying with them. The meals were delicious and completely different from the Mexican cuisine I was used to at home. The food had less spice, but it never stopped me from cleaning the plate. If you are too go out for meals, the best meals usually were paellas or kebabs. They are usually reasonably priced and are great tasting. Speaking of pricing, having no tax or tip really was a difference from what I was used to here in the U.S., it is kind of a cool thing to not to have to worry about it. The nightlife in Madrid is spectacular and is definitely a way to connect with other Spaniards and have a good time. From bars to clubs, and finishing the night off with churros con chocolate, it makes for an interesting and adventurous night. I would also recommend trying to volunteer at a school and teach English. It is a great way to practice your Spanish with younger children and learn to translate between languages. Furthermore, if you take a course in either dance or music it will give you another perspective on the value of the arts within the culture. I myself took a classical guitar course and performed at the end of the semester. It was great! I even used the guitar to help me teach English at the school where I volunteered. I would day Madrid is the best place to be, since it is at the center of the entire country and is a hub for the arts, fashion, culture, dance, film, and socializing. Also, being at the center it makes it easier for you to travel outside of Spain. I went to Italy for Semana Santa and I had no problems with flying internationally and no layovers. In addition, within the city the metro (subway) is clean and very well connected and can get you from point A to point B without ever opening your wallet for gas. The biggest thing I think is to be open to the experience. Throw away any preconceived notions on what you will accept and enjoy the ride. Trust me you will not regret it. Overall, the program changed my life and made me a strong believer in IES Madrid. I relish the opportunity to return to what I now consider as my second home, and hope that any who choose the Madrid program will also have a positive life altering experience that will open your mind to a new world.

How can this program be improved?
The early classes were difficult with the nightlife taking its toll during the week. Also, watch out for pick pockets in crowded areas and in the metro. Although, I never had anything stolen or even attempted, I had friends who suffered the misfortune and it can really put a damper on your experience. Also, portion sizes are much smaller than in the U.S., so be prepared to eat a little less than what you may be used to. Finally, the euro makes things expensive, so be prepared to spend quite a bit while abroad. In terms of the IES program, I thought that it was overall very good. The staff was great, the professors awesome, and the trips exciting. I only wish that the program had been a little longer.
Yes, I recommend
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Lily
9/10

Semester of a lifetime

I had a great time studying abroad in Madrid with IES. The staff was helpful, caring, and nice. The academics were challenging enough, offered plenty of class options, and still allowed me to experience Madrid life and travel around Europe. My living situation was fantastic, with a host mom and a 14 year old host brother in an apartment about 40 minutes away from the IES center via metro. I was provided for daily by a very loving host mother, who fed me more than enough food for every meal. In addition, the classes were interesting and challenging without requiring too much out of class time on homework (compared to college in the US). I also took a class at the university in Madrid, which IES helped me find, enroll in, and find resources to help me in my class. There were all kinds of other students on the program, and I was able to find people like me who I connected with and could travel all around with. One of the best parts was having 3-day weekends every week, which allowed for a lot of travel and exploration. Also, IES provided some weekend trips which were always fun and filled with activities.

How can this program be improved?
I would have classes not start as early in the morning, since the Spanish life-style is a much later schedule than what a lot of American students are used to. We had mandatory grammar class everyday at 9 (which was an awesome and really helpful class) but it was sometimes hard to take advantage of the Madrid night (which is when most of the social scene happens) and wake up and be alert for class.
Yes, I recommend

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