La Vida Madrileña Past Review

By (Communication and Media Studies, Trinity University) - abroad from 01/12/2015 to 05/09/2015 with

IES Abroad: Madrid - IES Abroad in Madrid

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
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.

Review Photos

IES Abroad: Madrid - IES Abroad in Madrid Photo IES Abroad: Madrid - IES Abroad in Madrid Photo

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The classes are fairly easy and with a very light homework load until the midterms and final exams. Typically, your grade depends on how well you do on those two exams which might be something new for many students.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I chose to live in a residence hall with other Spanish and international students, so meeting the locals and learning about the culture was easy and fun. My only but kind of major complaint about this option was that the food is included with this option, as in you pay for all of your meals to come from the cafeteria, and the food is not very good.

* Food:

Because I was living in the residence hall, my food came from the cafeteria and it was all paid for with the extra cost of the residence hall. The food was not necessarily bad, but extremely underwhelming and overall tasteless and just not very good. I ate out frequently because of this and had to use my money that I had set aside for other things on that which wasn't planned. Food in Madrid outside of the cafeteria was great and I highly recommend it.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? No


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Approximately $100.00 a week.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Save more than you think you need and anticipate spending a lot. You may want to travel during your time abroad, and while it is less expensive to do when in the States, it still costs money.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Advanced
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Fluent
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Advanced Grammar & Advanced Composition and Conversation
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? I encourage you to read for fun in the language that you are studying and to speak with people your own age- make learning the language fun and it becomes less of a chore.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Learning how to maneuver the public transportation which made it so easy to travel within Madrid.
  • Being forced to speak Spanish in class and to use it in my assignments.
* What could be improved?
  • The food in the residence hall option for living.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I had a better idea of how much money I was going to need. I think I would've been more prepared if they had broken down an estimated living expense for different things.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

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The Outright Urbanite
A social butterfly, you're happiest in bustling cities with hip people, and took advantage of all it had to offer. You enjoyed the nightlife, and had fun going out dancing, and socializing with friends. Fun-loving and dressed to the nines, you enjoyed discovering new restaurants, shops, cafes, and bars in your host country.