The Spanish have a saying "vivir para trabajar, no trabajar para vivir." Loosely translated this phrase means "live to work, don't work to live." In other words, enjoy what you do with your life and make sure it makes you happy; don't do something just because you have to. During my visit to Spain in the summer of 2014, I found that this statement embodies the Spanish culture, and the IES Abroad Madrid Summer program truly gave me the opportunity to live it.
Having lived in the United States all my life, I did not have too many international experiences under my belt before this trip to Madrid. I chose to study abroad so that I could be immersed in the Spanish language and culture, and it was definitely one of the best decisions of my entire life.
IES Abroad Madrid Summer is a 6-week-long program centered in Madrid, Spain. The program allowed for complete language immersion, as all my classes were in Spanish and, since I was with a host family, I could only communicate with them in their native language. Everyone took two classes: a grammar class and an elective. My elective was Madrid the City, which basically just gave the class an excuse to travel around Madrid and learn the history. By the end of the program, I really felt like I knew the city well.
The program offered many activities throughout the week within the city. We had museum visits and walking tours, flamenco dancing lessons and cooking demonstrations, debate sessions and excursions with native students.
Over the course of the program, we also got to travel around Spain. With IES Abroad, we went to Segovia, Valencia, Cordoba, and the Madrid mountains. We had enough downtime as well so that I took a trip o fmy own to Barcelona with friends I'd made in the program.
As much as I enjoyed experiencing the city, the country, the culture, and the language, some of my favorite memories are a result of the people I met. All of the IES Abroad staff and teachers were incredible and helpful. My host family was so nice and made delicious food. I made many friends who were fellow students in the program. Overall, I always felt very comfortable and happy during my stay.
I learned and experienced so much and gained so much confidence from my time in Madrid. IES Abroad truly has an amazing program, and I would highly recommend the program to any prospective Spanish study abroad student.