USAC Spain: Madrid

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About

Study abroad at the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid, Spain with USAC! Students interested in pursuing studies in Spanish language or Spanish and European studies will have ample course options to do so. Students will have the exciting opportunity to practice their developing language skills with local Spaniards in one of the great capital cities of the world. Explore the city through field trips and free time, visiting museums, viewing magnificent architecture, eating amazing food, and attending cultural events with friendly locals.

Highlights
  • Enjoy the benefits of living in one of Europe’s most vibrant (and comparatively affordable) capital cities: visit Madrid´s world-famous museums (must-sees for Art History students), experience its fabulous nightlife, explore its unique neighborhoods
  • Join field trips to see the famous windmills of La Mancha, the stunning medieval cities of Toledo and Segovia, the imposing monastery of El Escorial
  • Immerse yourself in Spanish culture: visit newly refurbished food markets and sample its delicious cuisine, join the language partner exchange program at the university, or volunteer at a local school
  • Take advantage of Madrid´s “Río”—an area where you can play sports or go for a walk

Questions & Answers

Reviews

97%
based on 16 reviews
  • Academics 8.9
  • Support 8.9
  • Fun 8.6
  • Housing 9.3
  • Safety 9.5
Showing 1 - 15 of 16
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Cristina
7/10

Madrid USAC

I did enjoy the opportunities that were available to me such as my involvement as a blog writer for two posts for my program, as well as the local I met through USAC’s group activity of bowling. She was super nice in not only helping as my tutor for my academic classes but she reached out to me to explore the city together getting a bite to eat, spontaneously catching an outside art exhibit on our way to going to a museum. There are such a range of artistic and cultural activities to do here from all the museums, the El Rastro Market, the different plazas, restaurants, el cine, the jazz clubs, parks, and the bowling center inside the metro! Even though my Service Learning Course requires a lot of outside hours from class time and a higher grasp of the language it was a nice way to give back and learn how the city responds in their initiatives of social justice and I made a new friend from Argentina. So my program’s go to bar to eat for really cheap and have a big glass of sangria was El Tigre for only 5 euros. It also always seemed like they had rebajas: sales going on in their stores so anyone interested in European Fashion can get some good finds especially in Sol. I really think my Spanish improved from where I started with but definitely should have followed what my entrance exam said to do track 2 Spanish instead of 3 I reallly struggled with my grades until midway I decided to transition to 2. But favorite part overall was learning about myself of taking initiative in learning about a new city being away from home becoming a bit more independent, courageous, and curious about the world around me.

How can this program be improved?
Just making sure that each Home Stay Family has the patience to teach at any level of Spanish, and to be aware that not all students will be traveling to other places during the weekend because of their respective budget and because of their desire to really learn and engage in their program’s city.
Yes, I recommend
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Cynthia
10/10

Cynthia Sandoval

My experience in Madrid, Spain was truly amazing. I miss it still and it’s been almost 3 years. I miss the culture, the metros and my host family. I really got close to them and they not only helped me navigate the huge city but they also helped with school work and treated me like one of their own. I loved traveling the county because everything was so close! It was all so beautiful I have countless memories with new and old friends. While I loved not driving and taking the metro, I didn’t feel safe all the time—mostly because of thieves (pickpocketing). But my host family and teachers did teach us a few tips and tricks to prevent that from happening. Going to Madrid was not only a fun experience in my life but a much needed one. Growing up in a small town I thought this was it, I’m comfortable here that’s it. I didn’t believe I can live on my own let alone in another country. But I did it. Not alone though. I had help from the USAC program that walked me through step by step and I had an amazing teacher in Madrid that made it all worth it. I’m a native Spanish speaker but my classes in Madrid are the hardest A’s I’ve ever worked for. He really made us learn the material and apply it to every day life and not just learn it for the test. I miss my life in Madrid, but I love my memories. I’d love to make more if I got the chance to go overseas again.

How can this program be improved?
All the staff was very accommodating. I loved my program.
Yes, I recommend
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Brooke
10/10

Staff

All of the staff were so welcoming, polite and just fun to get to know! I loved all my advisors and they made me so comfortable with being away from home. Whenever I had an issue I would visit them and it would be solved immediately. The optional trips that they planned for the program were enjoyable and interesting, and I'm glad I went along for them! As cliché as it sounds, the friends and the memories that I made abroad were unforgettable and the ability to learn about another culture and country by living amongst the people was priceless. I will cherish the time I spent in the beautiful and multicultural city of Madrid and I look forward to visiting again, I am lucky enough to have had the ease of transitioning with USAC and would recommend it to anyone studying abroad.

How can this program be improved?
More flexibility and more interesting classes.
Yes, I recommend
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Julianne
10/10

Home away from home

This was my first time flying out of the United States and travelling to Europe. I took four semesters of Spanish in college and wanted to embrace what I have learned and practice my Spanish abroad, so without a doubt, I choose to study in Madrid. I was blessed to meet so many outgoing and travel-bug friends from across the US and natives in Madrid. I became friends with my intercambio, became best friends with someone who lives across the country as me, and experienced things I never thought I would be able to do. I would definitely recommend the USAC Madrid program for the summer because along with interesting courses, the program sets up really fun field trips in surrounding towns near Madrid.

How can this program be improved?
I would say it was difficult at first before I flew to Spain because I had no idea who I was living with and where I would be living. Also, I did not know my schedule, so I think communication through the actual program could be improved.
Yes, I recommend
Lindsey
Lindsey
10/10

BEST DECISION IN COLLEGE

I had always wanted to study abroad and I am so glade I added a 6th year to get my minor in Spanish. The teachers at USAC reignited my passion for school and learning and showed me that it was fun. Staying 2 semesters in Madrid allowed me to get familiar with the people and the city. I worked after school as a nanny to 3 children to help then practice their English. I met tons of friends through out the city and since Madrid is a hub for flights, got to experience all of Europe for a fraction of the cost! I truly feel that had I not studied abroad it would have been the regret of a life time. Since then, I am more empowered to travel alone to new places and can easily navigate through any city's metro. Everyone should study abroad!

How can this program be improved?
There is nothing that I would change about this program. All of the faculty are amazing and the level of service that you are given here is outstanding!
Yes, I recommend
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Lennon
9/10

Madrid!

Madrid is an amazing city. There's so much to do and it has an incredible nightlife. It's in close proximity to a number of little towns like Toledo and Segovia which are great day trips. It's also super cheap to fly out of.

How can this program be improved?
I wish there was a bigger selection of courses.
Yes, I recommend
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Carolyn
9/10

Increíble

Studying abroad in Madrid was the best decision of my college career. I'm studying Spanish at Loyola University Chicago, and my Spanish experience rounded out my education in the best way. I felt truly immersed in such a beautiful culture; I think the biggest gift was my Spanish host family. Amelia, my host mom, felt like family by the end of my semester. It would recommend the program to anybody!

Yes, I recommend
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kotan123
10/10

Madrid Experience with USAC

I had the most amazing time in Madrid! USAC has relatively responsible and caring staff members and programs for community engagement. When we arrived, they organized an orientations for students to become familiar with the city and our school. USAC really enforce us to get out our comfort zone and make friends of locals.

I really appreciated their effort to help us get involved in the Spain culture and the community. We had opportunities to pair up with Spanish students, called intercambios. I had the most amazing intercambio, and very quickly we became best friends! She introduced to me all her friends who grew up together, and with her connections we all became great friends, which tremendously helped me practice Spanish and learn their culture. Moreover, USAC provides student many volunteer and internship opportunities. One of my most unforgettable experiences in Madrid is my volunteer experience, where helped me go through some of my difficult time in Madrid and found my lifelong friends and supports.

My only concern with the program was the host family. I chose to live with a host family in order to learn Spanish quickly and experience the local family life. However, I had difficulties with my host family. I didn't feel comfortable in the place and neither had many interaction with the hostmom, who is the single mother. Meals provided in the house, which I paid for, were not well prepared at all. Overall, I didn't think the amount of money I paid for my host family every month worth for its value.

Any experience can't be perfect in all aspect. It is inevitable that you are going to face some kind of challenges, but I definitely encourage to get out of the country make new friends, learn a new language, and explore! Trust me it is going to be the most valuable memory in your life!

Yes, I recommend
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Brittany
10/10

Madrid is Home

I had a once in a lifetime, amazing experience in Madrid! I have loved traveling since a young girl and to go on this journey on my own was refreshing and inspiring. I went on this trip not knowing anyone and met the most incredible unique people. Study abroad does something to you that you could never ever learn by sitting behind a desk at school. And Madrid was the right place for me to do it. My host family was so sweet and kind and I lived in the best apartment. The night life was so fun, the people welcoming! It's a beautiful city full of tradition, history, and delicious delicious food. I love how Madrid loves to socialize and eat out all the time, it was one of my favorite things to do. Overall, I highly recommend going to Madrid! And if not Madrid, go abroad in general! It changes you.

How can this program be improved?
I would say that I regret not trying harder to speak Spanish all the time. I definitely abused my host family's ability to speak English and a large majority of the Spanish know how to speak English and will be happy to practice with you. Also the attendance policy was ridiculous. You have to attend basically every class and if you miss more than two then you're grade is lowered. The attendance policy at my college and most colleges in the US is way more relaxed and it just really sucked that while studying abroad when you want to travel and see everything, they implemented that attendance policy.
Yes, I recommend
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Cheyenne
10/10

My Time Abroad

Studying abroad was the best 10 months of my life. I learned so much about myself, about the person who I strive to be, about others, about travel and about the world. I miss Madrid nearly every day. I can so easily recall the smells coming from the "pastelería" that I passed every day on my way to school. I remember how impacted I was by the sight of elderly women walking arm-in-arm around the neighborhood. It struck me as so unique to a culture: lifetime friends are hard to come by, yet the Spanish seem to prioritize their friendships. It taught me that family and friends truly are the source of all support and happiness. Although my time abroad was predominately incredible, there were some difficulties that I had to deal with. I struggled emotionally with some personal things going on during a few months while I was in Spain, and it was quite a struggle to get help. I approached the administration of my program expecting a list of psychologists who would help me, but they merely referred me to the program's physician. Desperate to feel better, I scheduled an appointment with the doctor. Assuming that I would receive help within a few days, it came as a complete shock when the physician made me jump through hoops to set up an appointment with a therapist (contacting my insurance, scanning and faxing documents, getting signatures and approvals, etc.). By the time I was nearly finished with the clerical work, I had already felt better without receiving help from by program or my doctor. Other than that experience, studying abroad was truly a dream. It helped me to discover that I need to actively experience life, rather than to just let life happen to me. I understand now that my time is limited and every moment really does count. Per this realization and the relationship I formed with a boy who I tutored, I now know that I aspire to be a child and adolescent therapist. The boy and I became very close throughout the 10 months that I tutored him in English, and eventually he began to open up to me about problems he was experiencing at school. For these reasons I am excited to begin my work with children and their psychological needs. I also know now that I want to volunteer for study abroad programs in order to increase knowledge of and desire to study abroad. I can only hope that other students have the opportunity to feel the passion for life and travel that I now feel thanks to studying abroad. All in all, USAC and Madrid shaped my incredible life in Spain and I could not be happier that I chose to spend 10 months creating a better sense of self, as well as a greater understanding for what the world has to offer.

How can this program be improved?
I think the student-faculty relationships could be a bit better. As mentioned in my previous statement, I did not feel entirely taken care of emotionally, which is something that, while in a country other than your own, is a major factor in feelings of security and happiness. I also feel that the program needs to be more open-minded about their policies. For example, it is no secret that the majority of students who study abroad do not go abroad to study. We go abroad to travel, to see the what the world has to offer, and to broaden our idea of what humanity is truly like. However, USAC's attendance policy is maintained in such a way that if more than one class was missed per semester, our grade went down significantly. Now, I completely understand that school is a priority, but I feel that attendance policy should be the same that it is in American universities: come to class as much or as little as you'd like, but if you're grade is negatively affected do not complain. Under this policy, many students, if not all, come to class as assigned. Although, the classes that interfere with our traveling (mainly Friday classes) would be an exception. In other words, I feel that the program needs to trusts its students more. I feel that I missed traveling opportunities because I had to attend a class that neither interests me, nor applies to my home university credits. This situation was infuriating for me, especially considering that every other program I had heard of did not have an attendance policy.
Yes, I recommend
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Jaclyn
10/10

Studying abroad in Madrid made me want to move there

I knew going into my study abroad experience I wanted to get the most out of it. I knew I wanted to travel a ton and speak spanish. But now I want to move back and live there. My life was changed because I studied abroad.

How can this program be improved?
I would try and improve the classes, i.e. the course structures. Students are there to learn but mostly to experience everything the country and the continent has to offer outside the classroom. Studying for hard exams was not always at the top of our lists and that may have hurt us in the end (grade wise). Also, the school campus we were on in Madrid wasn't very friendly because it was on a local college campus.
Yes, I recommend
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Emily
10/10

USAC Review

USAC is an absolute amazing program. They were so helpful from start to finish, here in Reno and abroad while I was in Spain. I could not have asked them to do a better job. They offer a great variety of places and are dedicated to making you experience abroad unforgettable.

How can this program be improved?
Make it more affordable or offer more scholarshipd.
Yes, I recommend
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ILoveMadrid
10/10

USAC Madrid provided the best 3.5 months of my life

My time spent studying abroad through USAC was hands-down the most amazing experience I could have ever asked for. Madrid is such a vibrant city full of culture, history, art, shopping, great food, and an incredible night life. After spending almost 4 months in this city I still felt like there was so much I could still do that I hadn't done yet. There is never a dull moment; whether you want to visit some of the world's most renowned museums, eat at the oldest restaurant in the world (according to the Guinness book of records), enjoy tapas and sangria in a historic plaza, watch a classic bull fight, cheer on one of La Liga's best soccer teams, dance the night away in a seven-story nightclub, or enjoy a picnic and paddleboat ride in an absolutely gorgeous park. These are only a handful of the possibilities in Madrid- I could seriously go on for hours.

USAC was the perfect program to go through to maximize my experience abroad. Everyone I had talked to throughout the process was beyond friendly, incredibly helpful, and truly cared about my experience and well-being. The teachers were incredible! My classes weren't exactly difficult, but I was able to learn so much from instructors who had a passion for teaching. The USAC staff in Madrid were readily available for any questions or concerns I had, and were some of the nicest people I've ever met.

As far as housing goes- I could not have asked for a more perfect situation! I lived with another USAC student with a host family (a mother and her 21-year-old son.) Right from the start our mom made us feel at home. We really felt like we had become part of the family, and saying goodbye to them felt just as painful as when I said goodbye to my own family before leaving for Spain. The only complaint was our distance to school and the city center, but the public transportation in Madrid is fantastic and was never actually a problem.

As I stated before, I could talk about studying abroad for much longer than anyone would ever want to listen- and I would never have a bad thing to say. If you are considering studying abroad at all- DO IT. If you aren't considering studying abroad- still DO IT. I recommend the USAC Madrid program with every ounce of my being, and I hope that more people can have the same experience I did!

Yes, I recommend
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qkh3
10/10

Only a Plane Ride Away

There is no way to even scratch the surface of the last five months of my life. I remember when I first made the decision to study abroad in Madrid, Spain and how excited, nervous, curious, and most of all anxious I was to start my adventure! Briefly following my decision, I remember pondering whether to research the school I would be attending, the neighborhood I would be residing in, and the group people I was going to share this life-changing experience with. Stepping off that place, I realized no amount of research could prepare me for what I was about to experience.
Living and studying abroad in Spain surpassed any expectations I had of this adventure; it was full of all kinds of travels and all kinds of wonderful people! Without realization, Spain taught me things I only dreamt of learning and experiencing. First and foremost, I learned to push my limits when I learned Spanish! I also learned to try new foods, live on my own, travel care free, learned I actually miss my family a little, and eventually I even learned how to say goodbye, the hardest one of all.

Yes, I recommend
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zvolkert
10/10

A Cosmopolitan Way to Experience Spain

While some would discredit the architecture as less compelling as Barcelona or Sevilla, Madrid is in every way possible a sister city of the greatest in world - a New York, Paris, or London done Spanish style. Whether you love all-night, multiple-day parties in the fabulous club scene (Goa Fabrik boasts 24-hour, 5-room parties in their expansive pavilion complete with a gazebo and swan lake), casual tapas and beer or wine with friends for any price range or culinary taste, or simply strolling through the inexhaustible parks filled with ancient Egyptian tombs, Crystal Palaces, and rose gardens, you can always find an activity to match your tastes. Friends of Spanish, Italian, German, British, or any other possible ethnicity abound for you to find. The Prado and Reina Sofia are free several times a week, and they contain not only works by Spanish masters Dali, Goya, Braque, Picasso, and Velazquez but constantly rotating special collections of interactive modern art from every era and classics from Monet to Turner. Even if the art scene is not your taste, simply cross barrios to find fantastic local shows ranging from punk to traditional Spanish music. Nearly every performer, band, and DJ imaginable tours through Madrid. As long as you learn to watch your wallet for pickpockets, the city is quite safe as well. You can never expect to hear gunshots as you would in a city of its size anywhere else.

As far as the USAC program itself, the school was 45-minute ride from the center and quite small. However, dealing with the chaos of Madrid day-in and day-out make it a safe haven in many ways. The staff is friendly and helpful, but if you are at all enterprising, I would not encourage taking their student housing options. A quick turn through idealista.es can bring you less expensive options in the center of the city with Spanish roommates than the housing they accommodate. The professors ranged from mediocre to excellent, but even the worst of them had a lot to teach.

When speaking with people about to begin their study abroad with USAC Madrid, my advice is simple - travel light, live free, and, above all, savor every moment - you will find yourself at home in the end craving something as simple as plate of croquettes and beer as thought it was the greatest moment of your life.

Yes, I recommend

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USAC is a non-profit consortium of U.S. universities that collaborates to offer affordable, academic and authentic study abroad programs. There are abundant opportunities to immerse in the culture, history, and academics of other countries providing...